Feature High School Girls Basketball

QUAD-A B.C. girls Final Four 2024: Avery and Jorja are kindred souls right to their soles! Story of Rapids’ pair unlaced as Riverside tops OKM for third-straight BC finals berth!


By Dan Kinvig (Special for Varsity Letters)

LANGLEY — There’s little new ground to be broken in the digital pages of this website when it comes to Avery Sussex.

Like, newsflash, did you know she’s very good at basketball and scores a lot of points?

That’s not the direction we’re going to take this game recap, though everything in the above sentence could be said (again) of Sussex in the aftermath of her 35-point outing – highlighted by a jaw-dropping 27 points in the first half – as her No. 1-seeded Riverside Rapids defeated the No. 4 Okanagan Mission Huskies 81-65 in the B.C. 4A semifinals on Friday evening.

Instead, let’s focus our gaze a little closer to the hardwood. 

We’ve got a sneaking suspicion there’s a sneaker superstition afoot. 

As Sussex cruises around the court, you notice she’s wearing mismatched Nike Sabrina 1’s – the first signature shoe endorsed by New York Liberty superstar Sabrina Ionescu. Emerald green on the left foot, cotton candy pink on the right.

Then you notice Rapids Grade 11 guard Jorja Hart is rocking the same kicks, but the inverse – pink on the left, green on the right. 

And the sneakerhead in you can’t help but ask.

“We had matching shoes last year, and that’s when we won our championship,” Sussex said. “So it’s a bit of a superstition to get the same shoe now.”

Last season, Sussex and Hart wore matching black-and-white Nike Giannis Antentokounmpo models . . . and if superstition is your thing, you could say that it worked, as the Rapids claimed the B.C. 3A crown for the first time in school history. 

For Riverside’s Avery Sussex (and teammate Jorja Hart), there is story behind every step taken here at the 2024 B.C. senior girls basketball championships at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Mark Steffens property of Vancouver Sports Pictures 2024. All Rights Reserved)

This year, the duo took it to another level. Realizing they share a common shoe size (9.5W), they each bought a pair, and swapped one shoe. Souls and soles bonded. As the classic Air Jordan ad claimed, “It’s gotta be the shoes!”

“We wanted that cotton candy shoe, and green for Rapids,” Sussex explained with a smile.

On Friday, facing an OKM squad that can score points in bulk, it was Sussex’s scoring that carried the day, especially in the first half. Battling through relentless face-guarding from the Huskies’ Jada Burden – as tough a perimeter defender as you’ll find in this tournament – Sussex trusted her teammates to bring the ball up, and picked her spots flawlessly from there.

Even when the Huskies did a good job against her and forced a highly contested miss near the rim, Sussex’s physicality was such that her nearest defender was often staggering away after contact, and she’d simply collect the layup and lay it back in, unbothered.

OKM is a tough-as-nails squad, though, and they hung with the Rapids for much of the first half. Following back-to-back threes from Shae Sandhu and Presley Hopf midway through the second quarter, Riverside’s lead was relatively slender at 34-31, and the Huskies’ upset hopes were very much alive.

The Rapids finished the half on a 14-6 surge, though, capped by Sussex’s third triple of the night, to extend the lead to double digits (48-37) as the teams headed to the locker room. Sussex’s stat line was something else – 27 points on 12-of-19 from the field – giving rise to thoughts she might take a run at the tournament’s long-standing single-game scoring record (55 points, established by Vernon’s Faye Zwarych in 1980). 

An 11-2 run early in the third quarter gave the Rapids a firm grip on the proceedings, and they would extend the lead as high as 24. By the fourth quarter, there was little drama left.

The Okanagan Mission Huskies make things tight for Riverside’s Jorja Hart during Day 3 Final Four play at the 2024 B.C. senior girls basketball championships March 1, 2024 at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Dan Kinvig 2024. All Rights Reserved)

The Rapids are now off to the 4A finals (8:30 p.m., LEC Centre Court), where they await the winner of Friday’s late semi between Seaquam and Yale.

It’s the program’s third consecutive trip to the title game – they were runners-up to their local rival Terry Fox Ravens in 2022, and won it all in 2023 vs. the Walnut Grove Gators.

“I think our experience is going to help us along the way,” Sussex said. “We’re going to give it everything we have – we’ve worked so hard. I want it so bad.”

Sussex stuffed the stat sheet with 35 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and four steals, while Hart finished with 16 points and four boards. Annabelle Neufeld chipped in with nine points for the winners.

Hopf was heroic in defeat, racking up 21 points highlighted by a trio of treys. Sandhu and Burden finished with nine points apiece, and Maya Andruchow added eight points and six boards for the Huskies, who struggled with turnovers on this night (25, compared to just 12 for Riverside).

If you’re reading this story or viewing these photos on any website other than one belonging to a university athletic department, it has been taken without appropriate permission. In these challenging times, true journalism will survive only through your dedicated support and loyalty. VarsityLetters.ca and all of its exclusive content has been created to serve B.C.’s high school and university sports community with hard work, integrity and respect. Feel free to drop us a line any time at howardtsumura@gmail.com.

One thought on “QUAD-A B.C. girls Final Four 2024: Avery and Jorja are kindred souls right to their soles! Story of Rapids’ pair unlaced as Riverside tops OKM for third-straight BC finals berth!

  1. Howard,
    I was sorry to hear that you’re scaling back your utterly magnificent coverage of the BC high school basketball championships. As an elderly person struggling to maintain my Canadian basketball history site, I understand only too well the exhaustion you feel. I hope that it’s not ill-health in your case and that you’ll hang in there and continue providing hoops fans with your insight and delightful prose. I look forward to your coverage every year and think of you as one Canada’s hoops treasures. Cheers, Wayne

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