Riverside's Sammy Shields (right) tries to bring the ball back into safety against St. Thomas Aquinas' Caelan Prescott during Friday's TBI quarterfinal played at the LEC. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2018. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

TBI 2018: PoCo’s Final Four-bound Riverside Rapids play “…like the Kansas City Chiefs” of B.C. girls high school hoops

LANGLEY — Head coaches of high school girls basketball teams don’t often throw out NFL teams when they’re looking for comparables.

But then again, Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Rapids play with a kind of all-or-nothing attitude that is essential to their identity, kind of like that team which lines up quarterback Patrick Mahomes under centre.

“The comments I’ve already gotten a lot this season is that we are fun to watch, because we’re kind of like the Kansas City Chiefs” said that head coach, veteran bench boss Paul Langford.

The reason?

“Because our defence isn’t that great,” he says, “and the way we play is high-risk, high-reward. But I have to say that our offence is pretty exciting. We’ve almost always got four-to-five kids on the floor that can all score.”

On Thursday, as the TBI’s opening Sweet 16 round unfolded, the Rapids looked in over their heads at times in what looked like a brewing upset loss at the hands of Vancouver’s Britannia Bruins.

Of course, the Rapids found their swell selves just in time to pull out an 81-77 win.

On Friday, tough-minded Jessica Parker was her team’s own version of Mahomes, scoring 14 of her game-high 25 points in the opening quarter as the Rapids avoided jeopardy en route to a 77-44 win over North Vancouver’s Double-A No. 2-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints.

Now, the Triple-A No 2-ranked Rapids have a chance to continue their run and make an invitational championship final for a third consecutive weekend.

Riverside meets defending B.C. champion Kelowna in a 10:45 a.m. semifinal. Saturday’s championship draw on the LEC’s centre court continues with a 12:30 p.m. semifinal between Brookswood and Walnut Grove in an all-Langley derby battle.

The title tilt tips off at 8 p.m.

Riverside’s Anasha Thomas (right) comes together with St. Thomas Aquinas’ Rebecca Clarke during TBI quarterfinals Friday at the LEC. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2018. All Rights Reserved)

And as far as Riverside is concerned, they are a team with a precarious tipping point. Translated: The team that lost in The Big Ticket final to Walnut Grove, then beat a tough Manitoba team in the UFV Cascades final last week, could win big or lose big at any time.

“We’re not a big team like the one South Kam had a few years ago,” Langford said, referencing the 2012 and 2013 Emma Wolfram-led B.C. AAA champs. “They were big and they would still be tall at the end of the game. We’re not big. We have to play all game. Even if we’re up 19, like the last game, if we don’t keep playing hard we’ll let the other team right back in the game. We have to pressure and we can’t foul. If we do that we will have some success. But it’s certainly not an easy kind of game to play.”

On Friday, Tessa Burton hit four triples to finish with 12 points, while Alanya Davignon and Sammy Shields scored 10 points each.

Gemma Cutler led the Fighting Saints with 13 points while Olivia Thorpe added nine.

Langford acknowledges Kelowna will be tough in its semifinal.

“They are missing a kid (Kennedy Dickie) tomorrow but it doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” he said. “I am sure there are 35 teams in the province who could beat us. But that being said, I think we can beat anyone, too.”

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