By Howard Tsumura
LANGLEY — Thanks for coming back for Day 2 of the 2022 Tsumura Basketball Invitational.
We have decided to present the Rising *’s and Local 8’s as a standalone post.
I will be following with game-by-game separates on each of Thursday’s four Super 16 quarterfinals on another posting.
RISING 8 BRACKET
VERNON 61 COLLEGE HEIGHTS 57
By Howard Tsumura
LANGLEY — It’s early in the 2022-23 season, but what better time to show that you are capable of taking a good basketball team’s best figurative punch, dusting yourself off and then showing the kind of mettle so essential in any comeback win.
That’s the best way to describe what the Vernon Panthers pulled off Thursday in the first of two semifinal games at the TBI’s inaugural Rising 8’s tournament here at the LEC.
Leading by as many as 16 points early in the third quarter against Prince George’s College Heights Cougars, the Panthers succumbed to a 25-9 run and wound up trailing 46-45 after the Cougs’ Rachel Loukes stole the ball and scored on a driving lay-in with 5:07 remaining.
From that point, however, the senior-laden Panthers recomposed themselves and went on a 12-2 run of their own, ultimately coming away with a 61-57 victory.
“That was really good for us to show other teams that we can fight and that we are here to play against them and win,” said the Panthers’ 6-foot-1 senior forward Lauren Hoard, one of three 6-foot-plus players on the Vernon roster.
And one of the most under-rated thing about these Panthers?
Literally every minute, save perhaps a pair, were manned by Vernon’s eight-person rotation of exclusive Grade 12 talent.
Doubt the effectiveness of a team with eight seniors, all trying to keep an active streak of 17 straight seasons to the provincials in tact?
“It’s so good, being all together and having all these same girls to play together is amazing,” she said.
While College Heights made its stirring comeback behind the play of SFU-bound senior guard Rachel Loukes (19 points) and Grade 10 guard Lorenn Caceres (21 points), there were chance few easy buckets given up by the Panthers.
Packing it in the paint with an imposing zone, at times with three six-footers on the floor (Hoard, 6-foot Maddy Hackman and 6-foot-1 Amy Curtis), the Panthers resembled a college women’s defence at times.
“We practice that.. Coach T (head coach Dave Tetrault) always makes us get nice and big because we’re such a big team,” said Hoard, herself headed to Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island University to begin a collegiate volleyball career next season.
Hackman led the winners with 17 points, Hoard added 14, guard Dennica Paul 10 and fellow guard Beth Butler nine points.
Guard Summer Toor added 10 points in the loss for College Heights.
“I think we played hard and we played physical that game and I think we deserved that win,” summed Hoard.
SOUTH KAMLOOPS 94 PITT MEADOWS 32
By Howard Tsumura
LANGLEY — When South Kamloops head senior girls basketball coach Del Komarniski gathered what would be his 2022-23 team for a mid-summer meeting south of the line in Spokane, the veteran skipper knew it was going to be as important as any other part of the team’s preparation for a new campaign.
“This year was going to be the first time that the Grade 11s and Grade 12s combined,” he said Friday of his current team after the Titans toppled Pitt Meadows and look ahead to Saturday’s Rising 8s championship final against the Vernon Panthers.
“This season’s Grade 12s went through at Grade 8 to senior, and the group behind did the same thing,” he explained of the fact that the overall girls program did not call up younger players to the senior varsity prior to their Grade 11 year. “But we lost that one year (2020-21) to Covid, and that is the year that they would have combined.”
Keeping the junior core group together paid dividends last season when South Kam advanced all the way to the B.C. JV final before falling to Seaquam.
Yet because the soon-to-be 11s from that team and the soon-to-be 12s on the senior team had yet to be teammates (they would have been as juniors — 9’s and 10’s — in 2020-21), Komarniski brought his Titans to the team camp held at Gonzaga University.
Ultimately, it helped unite the team that will face Vernon in Friday’s final.
“We really got to work last spring and at team camp at Gonzaga… we tried to get the bonding and jelling done early,” he said. “It paid off.”
Four Grade 11 Titans guards — Kianna Kaczur (31 points), Kylee Kopeks (17 points), Ashtynn Gurnsey (11 points) and Lucy Marchese (10 points) — combined for 69 points on the night.
Jocelyn Boyes led the Marauders with 15 points while Lucia Karli added 10 for Pitt Meadows.
LOCAL 8 BRACKET
LORD TWEEDSMUIR 65 R.E. MOUNTAIN 52
By Gary Ahuja
It isn’t quite the “40 Minutes of Hell” brought to prominence in the mid-1990s by former Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson, but it does follow the same philosophy and isn’t just limited to defence and the full court press.
“We like to sub short and fast (because) then you can keep the pace high,” explained Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers coach Mike Mitro. “We say we have to keep the tempo high all the time: if we walk the ball up the floor, they get to rest, so we run the ball up the floor. (And on defence), even if we don’t steal the ball, put them under pressure, make them work as they bring it up because you are going to get rewarded in the fourth, that is always the key.”
Tweedsmuir defeated the R.E. Mountain Eagles 65-52 to advance to the Tournament final of the Local 8 draw at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational on Thursday afternoon.
The Panthers actually fell behind 7-3 before scoring 19 of the next 20 points. They had stretched the lead to 28-13 after a quarter before the Eagles clawed their back into the game, cutting the deficit to 38-35 at the break. But with a chance to regroup at the half, Tweedsmuir came out in the third and held Mountain to 4 points – all of which came from the charity stripe.
Of course, the Panthers were unable to capitalize on their opponent’s scoring woes as the Tweedsmuir shooters were equally as cold, scoring just 6 points to lead 44-39 with a quarter to play.
“We preach this all the time: if we can keep the tempo high, sooner or later the other team is going to tire out and we can get something done,” Mitro said.
“At this skill level, teams have one or two good players that are going to stand out; if you make them work all the first half, they are going to (keep) it close, but in the end, they are going to tire out (and) sooner or later, you are going to get something easy.”
For the second straight game, the Panthers’ Sevene Grewal was the team’s top scorer, finishing with 24 points, half of which came in the first quarter as she drilled 4 triples from beyond the arc. Hanna Grewal added 19 for the team. Mountain was led by 19 points from 6-1 forward Mackenzie Dalphond and 13 from guard Shylah Ahn.
MAPLE RIDGE 55 SALISH 35
By Howard Tsumura
LANGLEY — The Maple Ridge Ramblers actually went three seasons without a senior girls basketball program not too long ago.
It’s re-birth is already well underway, and the way the Ramblers have started out this week here at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational’s Local 8 bracket, the improvement shows no signs of ceding.
Grade 10 guard Ambrose Haintz scored a game-high 23 points, provincial team Grade 10 forward Kayleigh Mark added 14 while Grade 10 Kimberley Sinow dropped home another 10 as the Ramblers topped Surrey’s Salish Wolves and earned a berth in Saturday’s final against Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers.
The process of learning how to win is always a work in progress, and with a young team like Maple Ridge, head coach Jason Hampton is relishing the moments his squad has encountered at the TBI.
“It’s huge,” he said. “Got to learn stuff from your results. I don’t think we played great today but we won. And we will learn from it and get better down the road.”
Next test comes tomorrow against an extremely dialled-in Tweedsmuir team, one Hampton knows will be a handful.
“Their guards are going to give us trouble,” he said. “They are fast, they press. We’re going to have to take care of basketball and handle their pressure.”
The Salish Wolves, themselves taking big steps as a program, were led by the 16 points of Grade 8 forward Henna Virk.