South Delta's Kaija Rutledge reacts to the physical play Wednesday against Burnaby South in TBI 2021 opening-round play at the LEC. South Delta won 92-23 behind a game-high 18 points from Rutledge. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)
Feature High School Girls Basketball

FINAL EDITION Tsumura Basketball 2021 Day 1 complete: Seaquam, MEI, G.W. Graham, S. Delta, Argyle, Tweedsmuir head into Thursday’s Sweet 16!

Welcome to Day 1 of the 2021 Tsumura Basketball Invitational at the Langley Events Centre.

We’ve wrapped it up for the night with reports from all four opening round games, but first, here’s tomorrow’s complete schedule:

TOP HALF DRAW (all games at Centre Court)


6:15 p.m. — Terry Fox vs. Lord Tweedsmuir

8 p.m. — Sir Winston Churchill vs. Heritage Woods


4:45 p.m. — R.A. McMath vs. MEI

3 p.m. — Abbotsford vs. South Delta

BOTTOM HALF DRAW (all games at South Court)


4:45 p.m. — Riverside vs. Argyle

3 p.m. — Brookswood vs. Yale


6:15 p.m. — Langley Christian vs. Seaquam

8 p.m. — St. Michaels University School vs. GW Graham

Seaquam Seahawks’ senior point guard Amar Thiara led her team past Nathalie Francis (centre), Braeli Adrian and the rest of the Argyle Pipers in opening-round action from TBI 2021 on Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)


LANGLEY — It was a basketball game that, as Seaquam Seahawks head coach Lucky Toor correctly labels, “started out with a hockey score.”

Yet a contest in which the opposition Argyle Pipers led just 4-3 late in the first quarter eventually morphed into a 56-49 Seahawks win, giving the North Delta squad not only a victory in its first-ever appearance at the TBI, but a berth in the Sweet 16 Thursday (6:15 p.m.) against the Langley Christian Lighting.

How big a win was it for Seaquam, which Wednesday evening moved up to No. 8 in the latest B.C. Quad-A ranklings?

“It’s absolutely huge,” said Toor. “First of all, it’s huge for us to be here at the Langley Events Centre which always draws the best teams… and there is so much great competition here that we know it’s not going to be easy. But to build a program you have to play the best.”

On Wednesday, Seaquam and Argyle were two evenly-matched teams.

The biggest difference was the composure that a senior point guard can bring when she is able to steady the ship by her mere presence.

That was the case with Seaquam’s Amar Thiara.

When she was on the floor the Seahawks were a different team than when she wasn’t, and on a night when she battled foul issues the entire way that was plain to see.

“As you can see, we sometimes struggle when she is not on the floor,” admitted Toor. “She is our composure  person so when she was in foul trouble that is when we were missing that piece.”

Thiara was on the floor enough in the second half to help the Seahawks’ turn the tide.

Settled into their half-court sets, it was then put on the shoulders of Grade 11 guard Nyssa Sunner, a dead-eye three-point shooter, who stepped up and finished with a game-high 19 points.

Sunner was superb down the stretch, giving a view of how deadly the Seaquam offence can be when it shares the ball with purpose, as four of her last five makes from the field, en route to a game-high 19 points, came from beyond the arc.

Afterwards Toor said a slight adjustment helped Sunner find her stride from distance.

“She was positioning herself at the old college line and was missing everything short,” smiled Toor. “Once she realized what line she needed to be at, she started to knock them down.”

Baani Rajput added 10 for Seahawks, including two second-half threes that she banked off the window. Jocelyn Panganiban added eight.

For Argyle, 6-foot-1 Grade 10 centre Nathalie Francis led her North Vancouver school with 15 points, and although rebounding stats were not taken by tournament staff, it’s a safe bet to say she might have had as many offensive caroms as she did points on a night in which the Pipers seemed a little snake bitten inside.

Guards Braeli Adrian and Alex Danks scored 11 and eight points respectively for the Pipers, who also advance into the round of Sweet 16 with a 4:45 p.m. game Thursday against  Riverside.

MEI Eagles’ guard Makeena Reimer (centre) contests with the defence of Lord Tweedsmuir’s Simran Lally while Oquin Alindada brings up the rear during opening round action from TBI 2021 on Wednesday at Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)


LANGLEY — Rosters have evolved so much over the past two seasons, and for some teams, that adds up to some pretty drastic changes for the good.

That’s a good way to sum up the MEI Eagles team which has landed in Langley for this week’s Tsumura Basketball Invitational at the Langley Events Centre.

With two players capable of playing dominating stretches in the paint in 5-foot-11 Jazmin Avila and 5-foot-10 Marijke Meindertsma, Eagles’ head coach Rick Thiessen’s group, which also includes a backcourt group highlighted by point guard Sidney Giesbrecht and off-guard/wing Makenna Reimer, has a large group of seniors who look ready to compete with the best the province has to offer.

On Friday, with Avila playing limited minutes while letting a tender ankle she rolled over the weekend in the championship game of the Abbotsford Police Tournament heal more soundly, and Meindertsma thus taking on a larger role in the paint, the Eagles topped Surrey’s young Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers to earn the chance to face Richmond’s R.A. McMath Wildcats in a Thursday Sweet 16 clash scheduled for 4:45 p.m. on centre court.

Afterward, Thiessen was asked if the plan was to play the pair together at some point over TBI.

“Absolutely,” Thiessen exclaimed. “They are hard to beat because they are both fast and big and athletic. And at the same time, they are unselfish. You’re going to see them look for each other, and they love transition, too. Often times you’ll see Marijke leading the break.”

Meindertsma scored a game-high 28 points while Avila played only in the first quarter and scored six points.

Reimer, a 6-foot guard, showed herself to be a fluid scorer, dropping 25 points from all parts of the court. Giesbrecht and fellow senior starting guard Erin Kim each scored nine points.

The Panthers are indeed a young group, yet two talents battled hard and showed their talent the entire way in 5-foot-6 Grade 11 guard Sevene Grewal and 5-foot-7 Grade 10 guard Simran Lally.

Grewal finished with 15 and Lally with 10.

G.W. Graham head coach Sarah Mouritzen greets an emotional Langley head coach Sheldon Guy following their contest Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)


LANGLEY — In the moments before tip-off, G.W. Graham Grizzlies head coach Sarah Mouritzen and Langley Thunderbirds’ head coach Sheldon Guy embraced.

It was one coach paying homage to another after Guy made public Wednesday the fact that he would coach his team this season despite losing his eyesight in late November.

“We could all just be sitting as home but he’s here, he’s here because of those girls,” said Mouritzen of Guy and his players. “And that is so good.”

On the scoreboard, the freshly-minted Quad-A honourable mention Grizzlies were able to build a lead early and add to it.

Nicole Folka led the winners with 16 points, while Charley Ball added 14 points, Paitra Hall 12 and Abby Hopwood 10.

Isabell Nicholson led the Thunderbirds with 11 points.

Langley Thunderbirds’ Grade 11 guard Daniella Kuzik (right) is guarded by G.W. Graham’s Grade 11 forward Jordan Polesello during TBI Round 1 game Wednesday at at the LEC. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)

As Mouritzen added, just being back in the gym with her team and playing other schools, was a celebration in and of itself.

“It is so good to be back here after all the stuff we have been through, and in Chilliwack, we didn’t even know if we could even get here two weeks ago,” said Mouritzen of both the cancelled 2020-21 season and the flooding in her region.

“We’ve all been through it, but then you get here and you see people you know and you get to hug people like Sheldon, and you just want to embrace this basketball family which is so tight in B.C. My girls are so young and they have never been a part of it. And (Langley Events Centre) is like our home.. and the fact that (Sheldon Guy) is here and he is coaching, I am so proud of him.”

Burnaby South’s Sophie Quilatan is guarded by South Delta’s Kaija Rutledge during Wednesday’s TBI round 1 action at the LEC. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of Varsity Letters 2021. All Rights Reserved)


LANGLEY — B.C.’s best-kept senior girls high school basketball secret?

Ask Sharon Butler about all of that and the head coach of the South Delta Sun Devils is not going to argue with you.

They know us as a volleyball school for the girls and a football school for the boys, so we always fly under the radar,” said Butler after the Tsawwassen squad opened the 2021 Tsumura Basketball Invitational on Wednesday with a decisive 92-23 win over the Burnaby South Rebels.

Later Wednesday evening, South Delta was sitting at No. 10 as the latest Quad-A Top 10 was released.

“This is the first time we’re a Tier 1 senior team for 12 or 15 years, so we’re really excited,” said Butler whose rotation is even deeper than it was this past weekend when it dominated competition at a tournament in Victoria, having added four more players to its ranks this week from the Sun Devils’ volleyball team which finished second at the B.C. Quad-A provincials, which wrapped up Saturday at Dover Bay Secondary in Nanaimo.

“The girls have really bonded, and what a great weekend we had with our team in Victoria and the volleyball team in Nanaimo, watching the games and following each other’s scores,” said Butler.

On Wednesday, the Sun Devils left no doubt, jumping out to a big lead.

Grade 10 forward Kaija Rutledge led four Sun Devils in double-figures on offence with 18 points. Spanish international student Amanda Maestro added 15, while Alexa Kusel scored 14 and Kira Denney a further 10.

Sophie Quilatan scored 11 points for the Rebels while Casandra Cabillan scored eight points.

South Delta will face Abbotsford in a 3 p.m. championship-round game Thursday while Burnaby South meets the loser of Wednesday’s game between Langley and G.W. Graham at 10:30 a.m.

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