LANGLEY — So young, but so talented.
The new B.C. junior girls basketball champions from North Delta’s Seaquam Secondary don’t even start a 10th grader, and yet such was their poise and unflappability Saturday in the 2022 final that they won going away.
Now, for the first time in the 44-year history of the school, the Seahawks can lay claim to having won a provincial basketball championship title.
The Seahawks beat Kamloops’ South Kamloops Titans by a 50-20 score, led by the play of cool, calm and collected Grade 8 guard Syra Toor, the tournament MVP, who scored a game-high 22 points, including back-to-back treys at the end of the third quarter that put the eventual winners up 43-17.
Toor is the first Grade 8 to be named tournament MVP as an eighth grader since current Walnut Grove Gators’ senior guard Fania Taylor did it, helping her team to the 2017 crown. Taylor not only helped the Gators win the JV title, she moved to senior varsity level the next season.
When asked if hew would move the eight rising Grade 9 and 10 players as team to senior next season, Toor answered in the affirmative.
“That is the plan right now,” said coach Toor. “Even though we’ll be young next year, that is their next level of development.”
Despite their dominance, for head coach Lucky Toor, whose two daughters copped the tourney’s top two individual awards, the reality was that the team was still extremely young for a provincial JV titleist.
His hope was that the championship game would be the ultimate proving ground in which to grow up.
“I knew we had to weather the storm in the first quarter and our concentration was on the defence,” said Toor, as the Seahawks built a 21-10 halftime lead.
“I knew nerves and our youthfulness would get the best of us at times, and we missed some layups. But the concentration was on the defensive end and I knew that as the game went on, we’d get comfortable.”
Did they ever.
Seaquam had perhaps anticipated seeing No.1 seeded St. Michaels University School in the final, the same school which had beaten them earlier this season in overtime, yet Victoria’s Blue Jags had been upset in the quarterfinals by Little Flower Academy of Vancouver.
From that point, it might have seemed like Seaquam’s title to lose, yet it took a 29-point effort from MVP Toor the day before to beat the Yale Lions in the semifinal, and that push seemed to have the Seahawks ready to go off the opening tip Saturday.
Toor scored 11 of her 22 in the third quarter, while Camryn Tait, the daughter of former Richmond Colts and UBC point guard Brian Tait, added eight. Toor’s older sister, Grade 9 Priya Toor, named the tourney’s Top Defensive Player, added seven while forward Neelum Sidhu added five points and seven rebounds.
Seaquam’s 6-foot-2 post Sydney Roufosse had five points and 14 rebounds.
Kylee Koppes led the Titans with 10 points.
The win was the first-ever high school provincial basketball title, boys or girls, for Seaquam, which opened its doors as an 8-to-12 school in the fall of 1977.
“I was conscious of it, and we had past administration and teachers and coaches in stands and they all bought in to be here with Seaquam today,” said coach Toor, who added the success of the girls program is inspiring the boys program.
The Seaquam team has that true family feeling with assistant coach Jim Sidhu coaching his daughter Neelum.
Asked what it meant for him to coach his two daughters, the head coach said “I haven’t let that moment sink in, but I need to go over and hug my kids right now because it’s surreal. You think of this moment, and now it’s actually happened.”
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