Seaquam's Syra Toor splits the defence of the Yale Lions 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)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

QUAD-A B.C. girls Final Four 2024: Seaquam Seahawks top Yale, stake claim as first North Delta senior girls team in BC senior final in over a generation!

No. 3 SEAQUAM 81 vs No. 7 YALE 40

By Dan Kinvig (Special for Varsity Letters)

LANGLEY — Digging through the B.C. 4A tournament record book to find the last time a North Delta senior girls basketball squad advanced to the title game in B.C.’s highest tier, you have to back . . . waaaaaaaaaaay back.

Thirty-eight years, to be precise. 

The year was 1986, and the North Delta Huskies, led by tourney all-stars Shelley Johnston and Jodi Biggan, made a run to the final only to fall to drop a 60-55 decision to Steveston.

On Friday evening, the Seaquam Seahawks gave their community that same thrill a generation later, ending the Yale Lions’ Cinderella run with an 81-40 semifinal triumph.

They Seahawks carved out a slice of program history in the process – it’s their first-ever trip to the B.C. final. The No. 3-seeded squad faces the No. 1 Riverside Rapids on Saturday, with tip-off set for 8:30 p.m. at the LEC’s Centre Court.

“It means everything,” Seaquam head coach Lucky Toor enthused. “These girls have worked tremendously hard for this. We envisioned this, we wanted this, and we’ve got one more to go. And that’s where our focus is. 

“One more.”

A historic achievement required a legendary defensive performance from the Seahawks in the semis.

No. 7-seeded Yale, riding high after stunning No. 2 Argyle in the quarter-finals, found themselves utterly flummoxed and demoralized on offence in the first half as the collective wingspan of Sydney Roufosse (6’3”), Neelum Sidhu (6’1”) and Camryn Tait (6’1”) proved thoroughly disruptive. Seaquam limited the Lions to just two points in the second quarter – simply a smothering team-wide effort.

Meanwhile, Grade 10 guard Callie Brost sparked her team offensively in the early going, scoring 11 first-quarter points, and the Seahawks built an imposing 48-16 lead at the half.

They continued to cruise in the third quarter as Tait got going offensively, scoring eight points in the frame, and the Seahawks would go on to extend the lead as high as 55 points (79-24) en route to victory.

“Our focus for the last two weeks of practice has only been on the defensive end,” Toor revealed. “We barely touched anything on offence – it’s just been about defensive intensity, making sure we made the other team earn all their buckets, and then we allow our skill to do what it does on the offensive end.

“Game plan was to make sure that their top scorers didn’t kill us. I thought they had a phenomenal game yesterday. I’ve got the utmost respect for Coach Bobby (Braich) on that side, and I know how well he prepares his team. They got the better of us a few weeks ago when we’d played each other (at the Top 10 Tournament), so we were extremely motivated that nothing was going to be easy for them today.”

Both teams’ fanbases merit a tip of the cap, as both brought the noise from opening tip to final buzzer and created a memorable atmosphere. Yale’s supporters favoured pots and pans and snare drums, while the Seaquam contingent showed up with matching orange Home Depot buckets. 

Seaquam fans go crazy with joy as the Seahawks dominated the Yale Lions 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)

Lions bench boss Bobby Braich felt his team simply ran out of gas after Thursday’s emotional win over Argyle, and added that their early struggles on offence snowballed on them.

“We just didn’t have an answer early, and they didn’t miss anything,” Braich said. 

“We had to work way beyond what we had to do all year (in the quarter-finals) to get to this game. I think we were just a little bit emotionally gutted, and they’re young teenage girls, right? One bucket doesn’t go, and you miss the next one, and then it starts getting in your head a little bit. It’s a big moment, a big stage. Full value to Seaquam.”

Seaquam’s balanced attack saw four players score in double figures: Roufosse (15), Tait (14), Brost (13) and Mackenzie Henderson (13). Roufosse and Sidhu each hauled down a dozen boards for the Seahawks, who won the rebounding battle 57-40. 

Yale’s Maeva Carnahan was valiant in defeat, coming within a whisker of a triple-double with 10 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals. Ava Heppner chipped in with seven points for the Lions, who shot 20.6 per cent from the field.

The 4A final offers a tantalizing match-up between two teams who met in mid-December in the Tsumura Basketball Invitational tourney final. Seaquam won that duel by a 74-68 score, but Toor knows his squad will have its hands full tomorrow as they seek to slow down the reigning B.C. champs and their top scorer Avery Sussex.

“Sussex is the best player in the province in this tier right now, and we’ve got a lot of respect for her,” Toor said. “It’s going to have to be a collective team effort to slow her down.”

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