No one at Tsumura Basketball 2019 has been able to keep Britannia's Surprise Munie under wraps, including Kelowna's Paris Kirk (left) and Rylee Semeniuk. Britannia rode a huge scoring performance from Munie to a win and a berth in Saturday's championship final against the Okanagan Mission Huskies. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2019. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

TBI 2019 Final Four: In a zone of their own, Surprise and the Cinderella Britannia Bruins top Kelowna Owls for title-game berth

LANGLEY — It’s wrong to say that the Britannia Bruins were considered a long shot heading into the 2019 Tsumura Basketball Invitational.

Yet hands up if you had the East Vancouver Double-A underdogs knocking off, in order, Quad-A No. 6 Riverside, Quad-A No. 7 Yale, and Quad-A No. 8 Kelowna?

Of course you did. We all did.

Hardly.

Yet at this most magical time of the year, why not the Bruins?

Senior star guard Surprise Munie, these days anything but her given name, cut yet another swath straight through the heart of B.C. high school blue blood program.

First the Rapids, then the Lions, and now the Kelowna Owls.

With 19 by halftime, and 33 for the game, Munie’s powerful presence permeated throughout as the Bruins blitzed the Owls to both open the game and to start the second half en route to a 76-59 victory, and date with the Triple-A No. 1 Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. title-game finale.

Kelowna’s Rylee Semeniuk (left) tries to keep a close eye on Britannia’s Surprise Munie. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2019. All Rights Reserved)

So did Britannia head coach Mike Evans have this all mapped out when his team opened play Thursday?

“I was trying to do that one-at-a time routine,” said the 74-year-old Evans, now in his 51st year of coaching. “After all, we have ‘Here Is Now’ on the back of our t-shirts.”

The key for the Bruins has been the use of an active zone defence, something Evans installed to be able to play his two senior post players: Tiana Sacco and Lagi Vaa.

“Last week on Island we played fairly well and lost to Brookswood by three points and Surprise never played the second half,” said Evans. “When we went to that zone , the other kids played out of their minds, and I thought if we can stay with Brookswood, we can stay with anybody. That prophecy came true.”

With point guard Shemaiah Abatayo pouring home 18 points, and rising three-point ace Jewel Leeson adding 12 more, the Bruins are looking as complete as they have ever have.

Britannia’s third-quarter start did nothing but highlight the focus and intensity they had brought to Final Four Friday.

The Bruins reeled off the first 10 points to push the lead to 20 points at 51-31, and when Sacco drained a pair of free throws a few minutes later, the Bruins had capped a 17-4 run to lead 58-35 midway through the frame.

And Britannia was also clearly ready to play off the opening tip.

Kelowna’s Shia Holmes (right) dishes off under the defensive watch of Britannia’s Tiana Sacco. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of VarsityLetters.ca 2019. All Rights Reserved)

Abatayo drilled a triple 13 seconds in to open the scoring, and Munie drove for a lay-in off her own steal a few seconds later for an 8-0 advantage.

Kelowna had its moments, including solid play down low from Grade 11 post Shia Holmes, but the Bruins found their stride late with a pair of impressive hoops to take a 41-31 lead at the break.

First, with a defender in her face, Munie drained a turnaround 16-footer with 1:29 left to bring her scoring total to 19.

Then, Leeson drained a triple just before the halftime buzzer to make it 41-31.

Holmes led the Owls with 1y7 points while Nicole Torozan led a host of other Owls in single-digits with nine points.

Kelowna will play Langley Christian at 6:45 p.m. Saturday for third place.

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