Few anywhere play the game with the same outward joy of Walnut Grove senior Tavia Rowell (centre), pictured as she explodes to the hoop off the dribble against Langley Christian's Makenna Gardner (left) and Hailey Van Roekel. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2018. All Rights Reserved) (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2018. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

TBI 2018: Now Final Four-bound, Walnut Grove senior star Tavia Rowell says her Gators play every game “…like it’s our last game”

LANGLEY — Point out a box on her team’s list still to receive a check mark and Walnut Grove’s star senior guard Tavia Rowell takes no offence.

Instead, following an 86-59 win over the Langley Christian Lightning on Friday in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Tsumura Basketball Invitational, Rowell noted that the process her team is putting itself through this season is the most important element in trying to win the school’s first B.C. senior girls AAA varsity basketball title.

“That is obviously our goal this year, to win a championship,” said Rowell after she dropped four treys and scored 17 of her game-high 31 points in the second half as the Gators advanced to Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. centre court semifinal against its crosstown rivals, the Brookswood Bobcats.

“So to do that, we treat every game like it’s the championship game,” continued Rowell, bound next season for NCAA Div. 1 Grand Canyon. “In our warm ups, our coaches always tell us to warm-up super hard, like it’s our last game and that is what we try to work on.”

That desperation extended to the defensive end Friday, as Walnut Grove held Langley Christian to just eight points in the second quarter en route to building a 44-21 halftime lead.

Walnut Grove’s Sophia Wisotzki (left) wasn’t afraid to work in the trenches Friday as her Gators’ turned back Katherine New (centre), Ava Krepp and the Langley Christian Lightning in the TBI quarterfinals at the LEC. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2018. All Rights Reserved)

“I Iove how we play,” says Rowell. “I love how we’re fast-breaking, how we’re getting it into Jess (Wisotzki) from the long passes. And our screening is getting so much better. I also love how we’re slowing down and playing through our offence.”

That’s a lot of stuff to love, and you can see the passion and energy Rowell brings to the game at every turn.

And Rowell’s reference to fellow senior and SFU-bound Wisotzki was spot on, especially when the Gators pounded the ball inside to the athletic senior.

Wisotzki, who finished with 25 points, went 9-of-10 from the stripe, including a perfect 6-for-6 in the second half.

Younger sister Sophia Wisotzki added 16 points, matching Rowell with a quartet of treys.

Saturday’s championship round opens at 10:45 a.m. when Riverside faces defending B.C. AAA champion Kelowna. The championship final is slated for 8 p.m.

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