PORT COQUITLAM — They hadn’t punched their tickets to the Big Dance in so long that even the school’s historians were having a hard time trying to figure out when the last time the senior girls basketball team from Seaquam Secondary last qualified for the B.C. championships.
One thing was certain, however, as the fourth-quarter clock expired to show that the North Delta-based team had rallied from an opening-half deficit to beat North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers 52-46 in the first of two Quad-A backdoor sudden-elimination qualifiers staged at PoCo’s Riverside Secondary: The Seahawks girls were starting history anew, writing a triumphant new chapter by qualifying for the provincials for the first time since the 1991-92 campaign.
In the evening’s other sudden-elimination qualifier, Abbotsford’s Yale Lions topped Surrey’s Semiahmoo Totems 77-27 to earn its berth into the B.C. draw.
“That’s what we was being talked about, how it’s been so long for the program getting back,” said Seaquam head coach Lucky Toor, whose team had split its two prior games with Argyle, including a 56-49 victory Dec. 15 at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational.
Yet getting it done and getting to the provincials was no easy task.
Argyle built a 23-18 halftime lead, forcing the Seahawks to try and re-invent their identity over the final 20 minutes of play.
“We switched our defence to a zone, and we started to talk a lot more out there,” Toor said. “That gave us more energy, and it helped us create turnovers in the first five minutes (of the third quarter). We might might have had one or two transition baskets in the first half. I think we had 10 or 12 in the second.”
Senior guard Jasmine Sidhu led the winners with 13 points, while senior Baani Rajput and Grade 11 Nyssa Sunner each added 12.
“That’s a very well-coached team on the other side and they made some great adjustments from the last time we played them,” said Toor of the Pipers, who on Tuesday were led by the game-high 24 points of 6-foot-1 Grade 10 forward Nathalie Francis.
“Early on we tried to feel her out,” said Toor of trying to determine where the talented Francis was going to do her damage. “The first time we played them, she did it more from the outside, and the second time she beat us up on the inside.”
On Tuesday, Francis was proving tough to stop once she got the ball in the deep post and was allowed to go to her drop-step move.
“So we tried to front her, to deny her touches,” added Toor, who got a workmanlike defensive effort in that regard from his 6-foot-1 senior post Shaunti Gill.
“It was one of those typically ugly playoff games where you’ve just got to find a way,” added Toor, who clearly saw things differently at the final horn from a purely emotional standpoint.
After 30 years of missing out on the provincials, it was from Seaquam’s perspective, a thing of intense beauty.
The draws for the B.C. senior girls 2A, 3A and 4A tournaments will be revealed beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday during a livestream from the Langley Events Centre.
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