LANGLEY — Get ready for the Battle of PoCo!
On Saturday (8:30 p.m.), the Langley Events Centre will give B.C. girls high school basketball its last major showcase tournament until at least the start of February on when the Quad-A No. 1 Terry Fox Ravens take on the No. 6 Riverside Rapids.
It’s a Port Coquitlam derby doubling as the Tsumura Basketball Invitational championship final.
New provincial health guidelines put in place Friday afternoon to help slow the spread of the new Omicron variant state that no sports tournaments will be held beginning Monday until at least Jan. 31.
When asked about the fact that the Terry Fox-Riverside tournament final could be the last of its kind for over a month, and potentially even longer, Ravens’ co-head coach Mike Carkner could only be thankful for what teams at the TBI and other invitationals across the province have been able to enjoy with each other this week.
“This is so special and it’s been great for the kids to be back on the court and I know they are loving it,” Carkner said following his team’s semifinal win Friday night over the South Delta Sun Devils. “In the middle of a crazy time, this is a great celebration. We’re just glad to be back.”
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LANGLEY — On a team filled with game-changing talent, it’s never easy to stand out.
Yet on Friday, as it punched its tickets to the 2021 TBI championship final with a win over the Quad-A No. 10 ranked South Delta Sun Devils, it was impossible to miss the performance of the Ravens’ Grade 12 guard Lauren Clements.
Whether the 5-foot-8 Clements was keying the fast-break with a well-timed outlet, finding open teammates in the half-court with rocket passes, getting an opportune deflection, pulling down tough rebounds, or finding different ways to score en route to an 18-point outing, she was stat-sheet stuffer against Tsawwassen’s Sun Devils.
“She has been unbelievable,” agreed Terry Fox head coach Mike Carkner. “I think she is one of the best two-way players in the province. She can really score, she boards and she defends. That was kind of a bit of a showcase for her tonight.”
Ravens’ point guard Cerys Merton, herself a model of consistency and spirited hustle, finished with a game-high 19 points, while Taylor Matthews had 16 points and Alisha Weloy a further 10.
South Delta point guard Alexa Kusel led the Sun Devils with 14 points.
RIVERSIDE 95 LANGLEY CHRISTIAN 73
LANGLEY — Longtime Riverside Rapids head coach Paul Langford wasn’t happy with what he saw as a little lethargy seeping into the roster of his Port Coquiltam-based team, and thus he sought a remedy.
Hmm, how about an aggressive zone press, the kind that doesn’t work without surrendering to it with everything you’ve got?
By the time Friday rolled around here at the 2021 Tsumura Basketball Invitational, it was looking like the perfect pick-me-up for a young basketball team looking to discover its identity.
“We were trying to get the kids in shape coming off the COVID year,” said Langford, “and over the first couple of games of our season, I thought we played reluctant and that we needed to up the tempo.
“You know, take the governor off the kids.”
That was Langford figuratively referring to the device used to regulate the speed of an engine, and thus without its governor, the Rapids could begin, like their nickname, to flow faster than ever.
“It’s upped the tempo for us,” he added after this team followed a quarterfinal win over Brookswood on Friday morning with a 95-73 semifinal win over the Langley Christian Lightning later that evening.
The zone press, extended full court, seemed to suit the athleticism and the wing-span of the Rapids perfectly, and in the nightcap, against the talented, Double-A No. 1-ranked Lightning, it was the mechanism which helped generate turnovers and quick-strike hoops.
Senior guards Brooke Kendal and Venica Davignon scored 24 and 13 points respectively for Riverside, while Grade 10 guard Avery Sussex scored 20 points, and Grade 9 guard Jorja Hart added nine.
Grade 11 forward Alexis Hart added 15 points as the Rapids built a 52-35 halftime lead.
Langley Christian’s time on the championship side of the draw came to a close, despite a 29-point outing from multi-talented 6-foot-2 senior forward Taelor Coxford.
Senior point guard Sydney Bradshaw added 17 points, while senior forward Clara Fenske added eight points and Grade 10 forward Shaylah Black added six.
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