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 76 NO. 9 DUCHESS PARK 49
LANGLEY — While spending the early moments of the fourth quarter flirting with a triple-double which didn’t come before she was summoned to bench for some much-needed rest, Marin Lenz performed every bit like the BCSSGBA’s 2020 Player of the Year.
The senior guard poured home 37 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight steals, as the No. 1 seeded Abbotsford Panthers found their way to the Final Four following a 76-49 win over the No. 9-seed Duchess Park Condors of Prince George.
This season, more than ever, it’s easy to see what for the past few seasons, has become a developmental path within the Panthers senior varsity program for talented players of JV age to eventually earn the same stripes as a player like Lenz as they climb the high school ladder.
In fact in Thursday’s win, the Panthers’ Grade 9 troika of Chelsey Dulku (19 points, 12 rebounds), Lakresha Edwards (seven points, five rebounds, three steals) and Malia Lenz (six points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three steals) needed to look no further than their Grade 12 leader to know just where it is that they want to go.
“I think for us, it has been really beneficial because we don’t have masses of numbers, but competitive, hard-working girls that want to get after it,” began Abby head coach Prentice Lenz.
“And so for players like (grads) Siena (Lenz) and Sydney Fetterley, and for Marin since Grade 8, it gives them a taste of what it takes to succeed at this level. It’s then up to them.”
With Marin Lenz and Co. now set to face North Vancouver’s deep and dangerous Argyle Pipers in a 5 p.m. semifinal Friday, the experience the Panthers’ underclassmen are gaining seems almost palpable on a game-to-game basis.
“Argyle is a great team,” said Lenz. “They are long, they have a deep bench and they are sort of the antithesis of us in terms of our (shorter) subbing rotation.”
NO. 4 ARGYLE NO. 5 SOUTH KAMLOOPS
LANGLEY — Have a sneaky feeling that the 2019-20 Argyle Pipers are indeed one of the school’s best senior girls basketball teams ever?
On Thursday, those Pipers proved a big point: That they’re at least as good as their pre-tournament No. 4 seed here at the B.C. senior girls Triple A championships.
The Pipers built a 20-point lead late in the third quarter against the two-time defending champs in No. 5 South Kamloops, then had to hunker down and hang on for a 65-57 win which sends them to Friday’s Final Four.
And about that sneaky feeling?
Yes, it’s been more than two decades, 22 years to be precise, since an Argyle senior girls team last played in provincial basketball semifinals.
The Ashley Burke-led Pipers, who finished third, last accomplished the feat back in 1998.
“Our goal was to wear them out and we definitely did,” said Pipers’ head coach Anthony Beyrouti. “But the issue was that we put them on the free throw lone 28 times and they got to rest when they there.”
Again, balance was the key for Argyle.
Point guard Holly Brewer was excellent with 14 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists, and wing Hope Pearmain scored a team-high 16 points.
Behind them, however, were a trio of eight-point outings from its trio of six-foot-plus forwards Ella Mellinhaus, Gabbie Francis and Ryann Kristmanson.
That trio, along with the 5-foot-10 Pearmain, gave the Pipers a most imposing quartet of players with which to mount a number of pressure schemes on defence.
“We started off strong and just tried to keep that pace,” said Brewer. “Having a strong bench really helped us with our intensity.”
For Beyrouti, it was bittersweet, because the game plan produced early success until it didn’t, and by the time the buzzer sounded, there may have been just as many at the LEC’s Centre Court who felt that given a couple of more minutes, the Titans would have qualified for their third straight Final Four instead of the Pipers.
Nonetheless, wingspan is one of the game’s greatest weapons and it’s hard to think of a team that has more of it this season than Argyle.
“I have never coached a longer team,” responded Beyrouti. “This team is actually longer than my (VK Basketball) club team and we have the best players in the province on my summer team. So this team is longer, they have a lot of athleticism and they cover a lot of ground. We just need to play a little smarter and we’ll be OK.”
The Titans leaned on their two forwards and both did an excellent job.
Kendra McDonald and Fiona Brisco each scored 23 points, and the pair combined for 21 rebounds as South Kamloops outscored Argyle 22-12 in the fourth quarter
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
NO. 2 OKANAGAN MISSION 71 NO. 7 VALLEYVIEW 61
LANGLEY — The Valleyview Vikes didn’t forget to pack their fourth-quarter stretch-drive shooting game when they came down south from Kamloops to Langley for the B.C. senior girls Triple A basketball championships.
The Vikes summoned the best parts of their three-point shooting attack in the fourth quarter, hitting on 5-of-6 from distance and making things a little uncomfortable for the powerhouse Okanagan Mission Huskies.
The No. 2 seeds from Kelowna, however, simply asked their best players to be their best players when it mattered most, coming away with a 71-61 victory which sends the school to its first-ever Final Four on Friday.
“(Valleyview) hit a lot of shots today, even though I thought our defence picked it up in the second half,” said relieved Huskies’ bench boss Meaghan Faust. “It was frustrating at times, but the girls fought together as a team.”
Key to the victory?
OKM’s balance saw five players hit double-figures, including Grade 11 TBI MVP Lily Pink, who hit two huge treys to ward off the young-and-restless Vikes down the stretch, finishing with a game-high 19 points.
As well, fellow Class of ’21 guard Devon Felt hit three triples and finished with 15 points.
“Lily and Devon both hit shots to bring us back in this game,” said Faust who also got 13 points from Grade 10 Tatum Wade, 11 more from Grade 11 Makenna Jacklin and 10 from senior point guard Melaina Corrado.
Indigo Learie had 16 points and shot 4-of-10 from distance in the loss for Valleyview while McKenna Reeves had 10 points and 12 rebounds. Jadyn Overwater had 11 points and Jess Orr 12.
The Huskies will now face Richmond’s R.A. McMath in a 3:15 p.m. semifinal on Friday.
NO. 3 R.A. MCMATH 60 NO. 6 MEI 58
LANGLEY — Perseverance in the face of abject failure might be the most admirable quality a basketball team can carry in its collective DNA.
And on Thursday, with a display of shooting that at times made you shudder, Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats seemed to define the team that couldn’t shoot straight.
“Probably our worst shooting game of the year, definitely the worst half of the year,” Wildcats’ coach Chris Kennedy said of a series of horrific numbers that included 17.9 per cent (7-of-39) shooting for the first half.
Yet hidden deep in the underbelly of all that misery was a team’s willingness to stick to its game plan, and in the end, it lifted McMath past Abbotsford’s MEI Eagles 60-58 and into Friday’s Final Four.
“Nobody will remember tomorrow how ugly a game it was,” smiled Kennedy, whose team is set to face the winner of the day’s final quarterfinal between Kelowna’s No. 2 seed Okanagan Mission and No. 7 Valleyview of Kamloops.
“All they’ll know is that we’ve got a chance tomorrow, and it should be fun.”
MEI’s Taylor Ewert, who scored a game-high 19 points, was on fire as the game ended, scoring seven of her team’s final 11 points over the final 1:32, including a triple with 12.1 seconds remaining to pull her team to within 58-56.
MEI, however, had two of its 6-footers foul out of the game down the stretch as both Jazmin Avila (16 points, eight rebounds) and Gracie Comeau were both forced to watch.
“I think going at their big girls and getting them into foul trouble was big because we figured if we could get them into their bench, that could be the tipping point in a close game,” said Kennedy.
Point guard Liz Kennedy, who was posting up in the late stages, led the Wildcats with 18 points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists.
Marina Radocaj was also huge with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Caitlin Kippan had eight points and seven rebounds.
MEI’s Cailin Bitter had 14 rebounds to go along with six points.
How bad was it for McMath in the second half?
The Wildcats went 0-for-13 from the field over the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter with the extent of their offence coming from five made free throws.
The 11 points they scored the rest of the way proved to be just enough.
“We executed the game plan, but we didn’t hit shots,” Kennedy smiled. “That happens sometimes and you think the gods are against you. I thought the cruel game was going to get us. But the Law of Averages said that down the stretch, we just had to start hitting some shots.”
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