LANGLEY — Welcome to Day 1 of the 2020 B.C. senior girls Triple-A championships.
Please check back on this posting throughout the day as we continue to update the eight sudden-elimination games on tap.
TOP HALF DRAW
NO. 1 ABBOTSFORD 98 NO. 16 MAGEE 33
LANGLEY — After his team spent 40 minutes in the fire Wednesday in the opening round of the 2020 B.C. senior girls Triple A basketball championships, Magee Lions’ head coach Russell Potkonjak had no dispute with the ranking of the Abbotsford Panthers.
“They looked like a No. 1 seed, they capitalized on turnovers, got easy buckets… they made stuff look easy” said Potkonjak.
The Panthers did what they were supposed to do, as 2020 BCSSGBA Player of the Year Marin Lenz had a quadruple-double within her sights, finishing with 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and six steals in a 98-33 win over Vancouver’s No. 16-seeded Lions.
“I think she controls the game really well,” said Potkonjak of Lenz. “She just sets the tone.”
With Lenz at the controls, the Panthers dominated at both ends of the floor.
Chelsey Dulku had 19 points, Malia Lenz 14 points, 10 rebounds and five steals, and Lakresha Edwards 16 points.
Both Malia Lenz and Edwards are only ninth graders, as was the Lions’ top player, 5-foot-10 Maya Jurosevic, who led her team with 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
NO. 9 DUCHESS PARK 58 NO. 8 G.W. GRAHAM 48
LANGLEY — Logan Cruz maintains that she is always a point guard first, dedicated to making her teammates better every time they set foot on the court.
Yet as she surveyed the situation Wednesday in the opening round of the 2020 B.C. senior girls Triple A championships, she could see that she might have to take a different tack.
And when the smoke had cleared, the 5-foot-6 senior guard had most clearly accomplished her mission.
Cruz scored 16 of her 20 points in the second half as the No. 9-seeded Duchess Park Condors of Prince George topped Chilliwack’s No. 8 G.W. Graham Grizzlies 68-58 in a Sweet 16 clash.
“Our post players are a big asset,” said Cruz of 6-3 senior Jasmin Schlick and 6-0 Karynne Hampe, “but they had (6-foot-2) Julia (Tuchscherer), too, so I knew I had to step up.”
And when she ever hits a rut in her game, she simply thinks about her famous cousin — North Carolina State standout guard and former Brookswood Bobcats star Aislinn Konig — and the advice she has gotten from her.
“If I ever struggle with my shot in the game, I know that she is just lights out, so I just try and follow what she does…, to have the same mentality,” Cruz said. “I just forget about (a miss) and it’s all about just stepping forward.”
Averaging about 10 points per game, Cruz kicked it into overdrive in the third quarter, hitting a pair of triple and scoring 12 points to pull her team within 45-42.
She added five steals, five assists and six rebounds to the cause. Hampe finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Schlick had nine points and 10 caroms.
Sydney Owens led the Grizz with 16 points, Tuchscherer added 13 and 11 boards while Sydney Ma added 12 points.
Said Cruz to her cousin in closing: “I love you Ace, good luck in your games.”
NO. 4 ARGYLE 71 NO. 13 DELTA 30
LANGLEY — The Argyle Pipers subscribe to the theory that there is strength in numbers, and in the case of North Vancouver’s inaugural Sea-to-Sky champions, those numbers are a daily, self-regulating reminder to its players that nothing can ever be taken for granted.
“The top players push the bottom players and the bottom players push the top players,” Pipers’ head coach Anthony Beyrouti explained Wednesday after Argyle turned a close game early against Ladner’s Delta Pacers into a comfortable 71-30 win in which all 15 players hit the floor and 11 hit the scoresheet.
Senior guard Holly Brewer’s 12 points represented the only double-digit scoring performance for the winners, but certainly not the only quality performance by a roster which Beyrouti and his coaching staff have been working with the past five years.
“We get after it pretty good at practice,” adds Beyrouti of a group which is evenly split between its Grade 11s and 12s.
“And what having a big roster where everyone is capable of playing, is that if you don’t come to play at the start of the second half, of if the starters decided they didn’t want to show up, it’s… next! You have to be ready to play all the time, or you’re not going to be playing.”
After a slow start, it was message received for the Pipers.
Besides Brewer, nine other players scored between three and nine points.
Hope Pearmain and Ryann Kristmanson each had nine points and Julia Gocol eight points for Argyle, who are set to meet the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between either Ballenas or two-time defending champion South Kamloops.
For Delta, making its first tournament appearance since 1961, Emma Webster, Nava Hothi and Abby Wigglesworth each scored seven points.
NO. 5 SOUTH KAMLOOPS 52 NO. 12 BALLENAS 42
LANGLEY — Former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich coined what has now become a time-honoured basketball axiom when he said, after his team repeated as NBA champions in 1995: “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”
When the 2019-20 B.C. senior girls basketball season tipped off in late November, the two-time defending champion South Kamloops Titans were hardly setting the prognosticators’ hearts aflutter.
Yet on Wednesday, as the B.C. Triple A championship tournament opened, there they were, a proud No. 5 seed ready to see just how far they could advance.
“It feels great after the past two years, because that puts a lot of pressure on you,” said Titans’ co-captain Kendra McDonald, a member of those past two title teams. “So we just wanted to come in here and get that first win, and now we’re in the top eight.”
Of course, the Titans haven’t put a ceiling on anything, and its 52-42 win over the No. 12 Ballenas Whalers of Parksville pushes them into a Thursday quarterfinal clash against the No. 4 Argyle Pipers of North Vancouver (10:45 a.m.).
Ballenas, which managed to score just 14 points between the second and third quarters combined, were led by a remarkable performance by 6-foot-4 senior forward Abigail Becker who put up a stat line of 16 points, 29 rebounds, eight blocks and four steals.
And speaking of the heart of a champion, nowhere was it beating more palpably than in the No. 15 game jersey of McDonald, who found herself just shy of a triple-double with 18 points, 20 rebounds and eight steals.
“I just wanted to be able to keep the energy up and for us to not get down on ourselves if we made any mistakes,” she said.
McDonald, Fiona Brisco (16 points, 10 rebounds, six steals) are the team’s three returning core seniors, and both have done their part to help the Titans maintain their form following the graduation of 2019 MVP Maddy Gobeil, now playing for the UFV Cascades.
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
NO. 2 OKANAGAN MISSION 116 NO. 15 CHARLES HAYS 22
LANGLEY — The Okanagan Mission Huskies senior girls basketball team are such a family that it’s no surprise to hear they’ve got some unique accommodations for this week’s 2020 B.C. senior girls Triple A championships being staged at the Langley Events Centre.
“We’re staying in a house down here,” head coach Meghan Faust said after her Kelowna-based Huskies, the No. 2 seeds, opened with a 116-22 win over Prince Rupert’s 15ht-seeded Charles Hays Rainmakers.
“I am a mother hen with 11 little ducklings running around the house,” Faust adding which a chuckle of the Airbnb accomodations located about a 10-minute drive from the host Langley Events Centre site. “It’s totally us and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
That family feel was certainly evident on the court Wednesday and Faust has loved the way her team has shared the basketball.
“Since Day 1 I have seen they are such a team… unlike any other I have ever coached. They are so unselfish, they only care about helping each other get better, improving as a team and winning.”
The Huskies, who face zone rival Valleyview of Kamloops in a 4 p.m. quarterfinal Thursday, put seven players in double figures led by the 19 of Tsumura Basketball Invitational MVP Lily Pink. Devon Felt added 15, while Jordyn Elliot, Tatum Wade and Makenna Jacklin addd 13 each.
Payton Henry led the Rainmakers with 17 points.
The Huskies took to the floor as a team in the pre-game wearing pink t-shirts in support of Wednesday’s anti-bullying day, adding FAMILY across the chest as a nod to their own team unity and positivity.
“They are like sisters,” added Faust.
NO. 7 VALLEYVIEW 66 NO. 10 PITT MEADOWS 45
LANGLEY — With just a handful of minutes remaining in their opening game here at the 2020 B.C. championships, Valleyview Vikes head coach Scott Reeves called a time-out to tell his team “you are ready for this moment.”
In what is very possibly the first-ever win by a Valleyview senior varsity girls team at the provincials, the Kamloops squad, one which does not have a senior on its entire roster, proved they were indeed ready for their moment with a 66-45 win over the Pitt Meadows Marauders.
For Reeves, who coached Brookswood to three straight top-tiered titles in the mid 2000s before making an extended star coillegiately at Thompson Rivers, the best part of it all was the validation his players could own for all of their hard work the past few seasons.
“They have traveled a lot, spent so much time in hotel rooms, trained for different scouting reports… and throigh it all, they all bought in like a family,” Reeves explained.
“So for them to pull off a win in the provincial tournament is a special thing. I told them opportunities come along in life, and if you don’t take them, you may never see them again. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
One thing they do know, is that they will face the Okanagan Mission/Charles Hays winner in a 4 p.m. quarterfinal on Thursday.
Against Pitt, the Vikes got a game-high 19 points to go along with nine rebounds from Jayden Overwater, 11 points and 12 rebounds from Indigo Learie and 15 points and eight rebounds from Jess Orr.
Vanessa Lagrange led the Marauders with 17 points, while Kyla Malone had 11 rebounds.
NO. 3 R.A. MCMATH 84 NO. 14 MARK ISFELD 33
LANGLEY — Liz Kennedy made her first senior varsity team at Richmond’s R.A. McMath Secondary when she was only in eighth grade.
That year, the Wildcats made a run right to the championship final of the top-tiered 3A tournament before losing to Aislinn Konig and the Brookswood Bobcats.
Ever since, McMath has tried grab an elusive opening-round B.C. tournament win without success… until Wednesday that is.
Wildcats’ senior point guard Kennedy scored a game-high 20 points and three other Wildcats also hit double figures on offence as the No. 4 seeds from Lulu Island claimed an 84-33 win over Courtenay’s No. 13-seeds, the Mark Isfeld Ice.
“We haven’t won a first-round game since (2016), there have been two first-round losses since,” added Kennedy, who is off to a career at St. FX next season. “They were winnable games, so to get to the Final 8 is special.”
Last season, McMath lost in the dying seconds of itstournament opener to the Brookswood Bobcats, and the memory of that moment was stuck in Kennedy’s craw until the final buzzer sounded Wednesday against the Ice.
“We lost by two last year and that was a really big heartbreaker,” she said. “Between me and (teammates) Rina (Marina Radocaj), Caitlin (Kippan) and Abby (Bodden), we said we were all going to come back one year older and one year better for having gone through the experience.”
The Wildcats clearer were.
Now, it’s a Final 8 date Thursday (2:15 p.m.) against Abbotsford’s MEI Eagles, a team they have not played this season.
“We’ll be watching a bit tonight though, I’m sure,” said Kennedy.
Kee Hohlweg scored 15 points, Bodden added 12Quincy Hinds 10, Kippan nine and Radocaj seven in the win.
Harriette Cunningham had 15 points and Myah Erikson 10 for the Ice.
NO. 6 MEI 66 NO. 11 VERNON 51
LANGLEY — The MEI Eagles had become a little homesick for the B.C. senior girls basketball championships.
On Wednesday, as the Abbotsford squad made its return after a five-year absence, its longtime head coach echoed what was very evident on the floor following its opening-round 66-51 win over the Vernon Panthers.
“There is a belief now that we are an elite team,” longtime head coach Rick Thiessen explained following the victory, which sends the Eagles into a 2:15 quarterfinal against the winner of Wednesday’s later game between R.A. McMath and Mark Isfeld.
“We took some tough losses early in the season to Abbotsford, and we played Okanagan Mission our second game of the season,” he added. “We just weren’t ready.”
Consider as well that MEI faced Vernon in early January and squeaked out a two-point win, a stark contrast to its 15-point win against what is a very athletic and defensively-sound unit.
“Today was a great measuring stick to show that we have made progress,” added Thiessen, who coached MEI’s last appearance at provincials back in 2015, when the team was led by the Fraser Valley Cascades’ record-setting power forward Taylor Claggett, who just last week finished up her university career.
MEI got a trio of gigantic performances Wednesday.
Gracie Corneau, the 6-foot-0 Grade 11 forward had 23 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Taylor Ewert had 17 points and seven boards. As well, Grade 10 Jazmin Avila, had numbers Claggett would certainly approve of, 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Ashley Bugden, Vernon’s smooth 6-foot forward, had 22 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and four blocks, while senior point guard Kelsey Watts had 20 points, eight rebounds and five steals.
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