BURNABY — The best thing about following Sienna Lenz and Tanis Matcalfe over their past few high school basketball seasons has been the way in which their respective careers just kept getting better and better.
All the way to the very end, in fact, when their paths crossed Tuesday evening in the final stop, the 2018 Fraser Valley vs. Lower Mainland senior all-star game at Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Collegiate.
It was a game won 82-80 by the Fraser Valley, one in which the lead was never greater than two possessions from midway through the second quarter to its eventual completion, the aforementioned pair.
And within it, the Simon Fraser-bound Lenz and UBC-ticketed Metcalfe finished their high school careers doing what many project will be their specialty at the next level: Stepping up to meet a game’s biggest moments.
Through the second and third quarters of play, a 24-minute span in which she scored 20 of her game-high 24 points by taking the ball hard to the basket, Carson Graham’s 6-foot-2 forward Metcalfe seemed to almost singlehandedly carry her Lower Mainland teammates into the fourth quarter with a 61-59 lead.
Yet it was in that fourth quarter that Abbotsford Secondary’s gutsy guard Lenz demanded the ball, scoring seven of her team’s final eight points en route to a team-high 20 points as the Fraser Valley finished on a 5-0 game-ending run to win by a deuce.
Metcalfe, whose improved confidence has been reflected by a stretch-drive re-invention as a gritty, points-in-the-paint difference maker, has shown a ceiling higher than virtually anyone would have predicted when the season began in November.
And Lenz, finally gaining a confidence of her own following ACL surgery which slowed the start of her senior campaign, not only hit a clutch triple with 3:22 to pull her team to within 78-77, she hit the game’s winning shot in the lane with five seconds remaining to snap an 80-80 tie.
Afterwards, it seemed clear to coaches of both players that each’s forthcoming chapters will be eagerly anticipated over the summer months.
“Are you excited?” Simon Fraser Clan head coach Bruce Langford asked when a post-game discussion of Lenz began with a query as to the way she had just finished her high school career.
“I am,” Langford answered to himself. “She scored some big baskets but she also made a couple of brilliant assists. She’s so competitive. She sees the floor and she has a pull-up jumper that most kids don’t have.”
And about her road back from a serious knee injury which had limited her minutes until the start of January?
“She was tentative at the start and even now I think she is a little tentative,” said Langford, “but I think she is gaining more confidence and having that little bit more belief in her leg that she didn’t have at the beginning of the season.”
Part of a star-studded incoming Clan class, Langford is hopeful that Lenz will earn meaningful minutes when her freshman campaign begins in the fall.
“I hope a few of our kids coming in next year can, and I hope she is one of them,” he said. “I think we have a pretty good group coming in (including Sullivan Heights guard Emma Kramer and Argyle guard Georgia Swant). They have speed, quickness, they can shoot and they love to compete and (Lenz) is at the forefront of that.”
Also on hand to check out the talent Tuesday was UBC head coach Deb Huband, who was convinced enough about Metcalfe’s fast-rising abilities that she had announced her signing on the first day of the Canada West season back in November.
Metcalfe’s high school coach Cameron Nelson said after the game that his star forward’s fantastic finish signals the start of bigger things to come.
“It’s amazing to see that basically towards the end of her high school season, she has taken another step with extra effort,” said Nelson. “She is not shy anymore. She is getting rebounds and she is taking it to the hoop. That is something we tried for so many years to get her to do. She is just now really coming into herself with her whole body. I love watching it because all of the work in the regular season and her extra work with Basketball B.C. is paying off. It’s better to see her end this way because some kids finish strong in high school but then they drop off. I think Tanis is going to be one of those kids that just keeps on going, and now, with what she will get from the coaching staff at UBC, it’s just awesome.”
Said Metcalfe: “Deb has talked to me about being more aggressive and brining out the beast, so I have focused on that. To end it like this, at the all-star game, was a really good end to five years.”
Fellow UBC recruit Hailey Counsell of Port Moody’s Heritage Woods Kodiaks was the Fraser Valley’s only other double-digit scorer with 14 points. Eleven others hit the scoresheet for the winners, including SFU recruit Kramer who chipped in with a bucket.
The second-leading scorer for the Lower Mainland was Metcalfe’s high school teammate, guard Alex Walker, who scored all nine of her points in the fourth quarter.
Here’s the full scoring summary:
THE SENIORS GAME
(played at Burnaby-St. Thomas More Collegiate)
FRASER VALLEY 82 (17-20-22-23)
Natalie Rathler (Langley-Walnut Grove) 4, Sienna Lenz (Abbotsford) 20, Sydney Fettterly (Abbotsford) 5, Sophia Klassen (Sardis) 1, Hailey Counsell (Port Moody-Heritage Woods) 14, Madison Draayers (Abbotsford-Yale) 3, Shaelynn Tolerton (Surrey-Holy Cross) 8, Brooklyn Golt (Langley-Brookswood) 6, Emma Kramer (Surrey-Sullivan Heights) 2, Amanda Pearson (Surrey-Fraser Heights) 7, Shelvin Grewal (Surrey-Lord Tweedsmuir), Harnett Sidhu (Surrey-Lord Tweedsmuir), Sapna Deo (Abbotsford-Yale) 5, Nicole Peters (Abbotsford-MEI) 6, Jaya Bannerman (Chilliwack-G.W. Graham) 2
LOWER MAINLAND 80 (11-26-24-19)
Abby Zawada (Richmond-R.A, McMath) 7, Alex Walker (North Vancouver-Carson Graham) 9, Chloe Walton (North Vancouver-Argyle) 4, Devin Strome (New Westminster) 2, Jenelle McComb (North Vancouver-Handsworth) 2, Kirstin Abo (Richmond-McNair) 5, Lucy Guan (Vancouver-Britannia) 2, Malena Mokhovikova (Vancouver-Britannia) 6, Rachel Feenan (Vancouver-Little Flower Academy) 4, Sarah Forgie (New Westminster) 2, Skyler MacDonald (Vancouver-Lord Byng) 7, Tanis Metcalfe (North Vancouver-Carson Graham) 24, Martha Melaku (Richmond-R.A. McMath) 5.
If you’re reading this story or viewing these photos on any other 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.