LANGLEY —What a Thursday of upsets here at TBI.
The Sweet 16 for 2019 will be remembered for the way that Double A teams sent the bracket into disarray.
Hands up if you had Double A’s Langley Christian, Britannia and St. Thomas More knocking off, respectively, Quad A’s Terry Fox, Riverside and Brookswood?
We’ve got all eight game reports below, but first, here’s Friday morning’s quarterfinal bracket.
TOP HALF DRAW
12:15 p.m. — Kelowna vs. R.A. McMath
1:45 p.m. — Yale vs. Britannia
BOTTOM HALF DRAW
9 a.m. — Okanagan Mission vs. Walnut Grove
10:30 — St. Thomas More vs. Langley Christian
EARLY SIDE DRAW
WALNUT GROVE 76 HERITAGE WOODS 66
LANGLEY — It’s a new era, but if you took your eyes off the jersey numbers and just watched the way the ball was moving, you may not have noticed that Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators are a brand new team.
No more Tavia Rowell. No more Jessica Wisotzki. No more Ro Taylor.
Yet how about five players hitting double-figures in scoring, and all within seven points of each other?
“It’s different not having out Grade 12s from last year, but we move the ball so well,” said Gators’ co-coach Marilyn Wisotzki after Quad-A No. 2-ranked Walnut Grove found its way to the Tsumura Basketball quarterfinals with a 76-66 win over Port Moody’s No. 4-ranked Heritage Woods Kodiaks.
“That was the key, and it showed because we found so many players today who might not have come in as our prime shooters,” added Wisotzki. “Everybody worked hard and the ball-movement was great.”
Sophia Wisotzki with 14 points, Anneke Cairnie with 13 and Fania Taylor with 10 were a trip of the more familiar names leading the charge.
Yet Julianna Jacobs wound up scoring a team-high 17 points, and Grade 9 Kiera Pemberton added 13 more.
Heritage Woods’ explosive guard Jenna Griffin scored a game-high 30 points in vain, while Kiara Kozak added 13 points and Lauren Tomlinson 12.
OKANAGAN MISSION 70 ARGYLE 52
LANGLEY — Meghan Faust loves the fact that her Okanagan Mission Huskies have opened the season with the B.C. Triple-A No. 1 ranking.
“As soon as we found out, I said ‘awesome’ because everyone is going to play their best against us and that is what we need to keep getting better” Faust said Thursday after her Kelowna-based Huskies showed just what cohesion couple with elite foot speed can do in a 70-52 win over North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers.
“We have the kind of girls who want to outwork everyone we play, and so they love the challenge,” added Faust, whose squad will get a big push from Quad-A No. 2 Walnut Grove when the two powers meet in quarterfinal action Friday (9 a.m.). “I’ve never had a group that clicked like this right off the top. Our transition offence has really clicked early.”
Melaina Corrado and Lily Pink each scored a game-high 17 points for the winners, while Elana Corrado added 11.
Gabbie Francis added 16 points for the Pipers, while Aiko Williams scored 11 points.
The Huskies went 14-of-22 from the stripe on the game.
ST. THOMAS MORE 64 BROOKSWOOD 48
LANGLEY — It didn’t take long for TBI’s first major upset.
Led by the game-high 25 points of senior Gigi Gaspar, Burnaby’s Double-A No. 4-ranked St. Thomas More Knights used a game-closing 28-15 run to topple the Quad-A No. 5-ranked Brookswood Bobcats of Langley, thus earning a berth in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Gaspar went 9-of-11 from the free throw line.
Grade 11 guard Kate Stewart-Barnett added 13 points and Bella Gaspar another dozen as the Knights fought off a Bobcats team which had crawled to as close as 36-33 midway through the third quarter.
“They just have a go get ‘em attitude,” first-year head coach Winston Brown, the former head coach of the powerhouse York House Tigers, said of his Knights. “It’s almost like they are playing to eat. I love it. So often you want to coach teams that are a direct refection of your own character. This is one of those teams, I kind of want to be like them.”
Brown just loves their team vibe.
“I love the way they get after it,” he added. “And they enjoy one another. There is a lot of growth left in the season, but the grit and resilience they have shown has been quite impressive.”
Jamie Retting led Brookswood with 16 points, while Stef Robb added 11.
LANGLEY CHRISTIAN 73 TERRY FOX 31
LANGLEY — The Terry Fox Ravens may still be too young to realize it, but they carry a fear factor with them that brings out the best in their opposition.
Ranked No. 2 in the latest Quad-A poll, the all-Grade 10 team had the full attention of the Double-A No. 1-ranked Langley Christian Lighting in the Sweet 16 round here at TBI 2019 on Thursday.
And that attention brought out the best in the Lightning who rolled to a surprisingly convincing 73-31 victory and a berth in the quarterfinals Friday morning against the equally surprising St. Thomas More Knights.
“Terry Fox is such a strong team and play so hard and it was a good test for us,” admitted LCS head coach Dani Gardner, whose team limited the Ravens to just two points in the second quarter and four points in the fourth. “We knew we had to come out hard and I thought my girls competed hard and just got after it.
Guard Makenna Gardner maintained a torrid pace throughout, scoring 25 of her game-high 30 points through the first three quarters.
“In a sense, you could say that was the best thing to happen to us,” said Fox coach Mike Carkner, whose team last season went undefeated to win the B.C. junior title. “Dani has coached that team so well, and they are a great team. We aspire to be that kind of team. But it was good for our young girls to experience that. They fell apart. It was a first. I have never seen that before. But we’re young and I knew at some point it would happen. This year is about being a learning experience. We have been super successful, probably more than we should. But we are going to get there, and we aspire to be like (Langley Christian).”
Lainey Shelvey scored 13 points in the win and Kate Vanderzalm 11.
No Ravens hit double figures on offence.
Emily Sussex led the way with nine points, Cerys Merton had eight points and Lauren Clements had six for Terry Fox.
LATE SIDE DRAW
R.A. MCMATH 74 G.W. GRAHAM 46
LANGLEY — Julia Tuchscherer and Marina Radocaj were both absent from TBI action Thursday, busy with Canadian national team program duties.
So the key in a Sweet 16 Clash between the Tuchscherer-less G.W. Graham’s of Chilliwack and the Radocaj-less R.A. McMath Wildcats of Richmond?
“A good chance for others to step up,” noted McMath coach Chris Kennedy after his ‘Cats stepped up across the board in a convincing win in a game in which each team was without its respective 6-foot-2 go-to forwards. “It’s about a great growth opportunity. And we scored 74 points without Marina, against a good basketball team. That’s a good game.”
Point guard Liz Kennedy led the winners with 21 points, while Caitlin Kippan added 17, Kate Carkner 11 and Abby Bodden nine.
Madison Zillwood led the Grizz with a dozen points.
Kennedy liked everything about the stage his girls played on Thursday, especially as it pertains to the rest of the journey ahead.
“Of the nine on our team, we have three Grade 9’s,” the coach said. “You could just feel the nervousness. It’s Langley Events Centre. But it’s so good for us. We’re going to play four good games here this weekend and then we’re hoping we can be back here in two months (for provincials).”
Last season, the Wildcats lost to Brookswood in the dying seconds of the B.C. Quad A Sweet 16, then watched as the Bobcats went all the way to the Final Four.
KELOWNA 76 LORD TWEEDSMUIR 66
LANGLEY — Maybe Surrey’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers were the most improved team in the B.C. girls high school basketball world over the past seven days.
Surely, the team which lost to Kelowna by 20-plus points in the fifth-sixth final at the UFV Cascades Invitational last week bore little or no resemblance to the one which drew the Quad-A No. 8 Owls in the Sweet 16 round of the TBI on Thursday.
“That is not the same team we saw a week ago,” Owls head coach Darren Semeniuk said after his team exacted a 10-point win which wasn’t as comfortable as that final margin would indicate.
LT’s India Aikins poured home 37 points in the loss as the Panthers led at the half, then got as close as three points (61-58) down the stretch drive of the fourth quarter.
“We’re figuring it out right now,” said Semeniuk of his team’s new identity in the wake of two straight seasons of talented graduating classes. “We’ve had some marquee players over the past couple of years in Taya Hanson, Kennedy (Dickey) Jaeli (Ibbetson), that really carried the load for us. So girls are emerging into new roles and it doesn’t happen over night.”
Semeniuk gathered with the team for an extended post-game chat ahead Thursday of its 12:15 p.m. quarterfinal against Richmond’s McMath Wildcats on Friday. “We’re trying to see who is going to grab those roles, carry some of the scoring, be on floor in critical situations. It’s fun and it’s exciting, but as I just told the girls, also a little confusing in that right now, I don’t know who should be on the floor.”
Shiah Holmes, a 6-foot-1 Grade 11 forward, led the Owls with 21 points. Kassidy Day added 14 and Rylee Semeniuk hit four triples to finish with 12 points.
Anna Bodnar add 10 for the Panthers.
YALE 92 VALLEYVIEW 65
LANGLEY — Abbotsford’s Yale Lions aren’t standing still for a second.
In fact whatever they do best, they still want to do, but only at a faster pace.
“It’s not easy because pressure is a great equalizer,” said Lions’ head coach Bobby Braich after his charges topped Kamloops’ Valleyview Vikings 92-65 to earn a TBI quarterfinal berth Friday.
“You do what comes naturally, and athletes tend to show up when you’re going fast,” continued Braich. “I like the bones of what we have shown early in season. We want to play fast.”
Senior guard Kyleigh Boldt was at the top of her game, leading the way with a game-high 27 points. Marissa Rodde added 17 points, while sister Neelam and Karishma Rai added 15 and 11 points respectively as the Lions carried a 77-47 lead into the final quarter.
Valleyview’s young group produced four double-digit scorers on the evening.
Jessica Orr led the way with 20 points, while Jaya Saroya had 16, McKenna Reeves 14 and Jaydn Overwater 12.
BRITANNIA 86 RIVERSIDE 81
LANGLEY — Ask head coach Mike Evans what was most important if his Double-A No. 3-ranked Britannia Bruins were to upset the Quad-A No. 6-ranked Riverside Rapids, and his answer almost left you wondering how they actually did it.
“What we wanted to do, we didn’t do well, which was control the middle of court from the top of the three-point line to the top of the three-point line,” the veteran skipper said in retrospect Thursday. “If we could do that, and then take away their three-point shooting, which we also didn’t do well… I thought those were the keys.”
Turns out, however, that there was also a wildcard element at play, and it’s one which Evans saved to the end, but uttered in the same breath.
“Then on offence, there are our magical two players…” he added.
Yes. True senior service.
Power guard Surprise Munie scored a game-high 40 points while point guard Shemaiah Abatayo added 26 more as the Bruins captured what was one of the most significant victories in recent program history, despite almost squandering a 15-point (51-36) halftime lead.
Riverside’s Sammy Shields, still only an 11th grader, scored 21 of her team-high 29 points as PoCo’s Rapids got to within a point at 74-73 before faltering.
The Bruins will face the Yale Lions in a 1:45 p.m. semifinal on Friday.
Evans couldn’t help but tip his hat to the play of his senior pair.
“Both Surprise and Shemaiah are more leaders now that they are 12s,” said Evans. “They want the ball in key situations and they shoot the ball in key situations.”
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