Still only in Grade 11, Walnut Grove Gators' point guard Tavia Rowell has been selected the BCSSGBA's 2017-18 Player of the Year. (Photo by Howard Tsumura property of
Feature High School Girls Basketball

Walnut Grove’s Tavia Rowell: The BCSSGBA’s Player of the Year on dropping dimes and picking up wisdom

LANGLEY —It was a moment of illumination that took place this past December, within the same Centre Court complex of the Langley Events Centre where she will this week try to help make history for her high school.

After playing her part in leading Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators past the Abbotsford Panthers to claim the championship title of the Tsumura Basketball Invitational, superstar Grade 11 point guard Tavia Rowell came to something of a personal revelation.

“At the TBI, in that final game, it happened,” explains Rowell of realizing this season that her evolving role has made her more of a traditional facilitator and less of a volume scorer.

“And now, I think it shows in the games how much I pass,” the 5-foot-10 Rowell continues. “I make more passes than I take shots now, and it’s helped us.”

Not that she can’t fill it up when she has to as her near-32 points and 10 assists per game averages show.

In helping keep Walnut Grove at No. 1 for the majority of a 2017-18 AAA campaign which opens its provincial championships on Wednesday at the LEC, a committee of BCSSGBA coaches has selected her the 2018 B.C. Player of the Year.

The reason Rowell, who like former Brookswood Bobcats and current North Carolina State Wolf Pack star Aislinn Konig, has a chance to repeat the honour next season, has been her ability to showcase another side of her game, one which has come this season in concert with dual ascent of teammates Natalie Rathler and Jessica Wisotzki.

Rathler has become a controlling force in the paint, and Wisotzki a dynamic scoring force, giving the Gators a triumvirate that is awfully hard to beat. Both Rathler and Wisotzki earned spots on the B.C. Top 15 list.

“I notice that I have more time out there and that there area lot more open lanes,” adds Rowell of the depth her teammates have given her as the Gators attempt to win their first senior varsity girls basketball title in school history.

Of course, not everything has gone the Gators way, and their 90-78 loss to arch-rival Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley final, a re-match of the December TBI tussle at the LEC, has in many ways set the stage for a huge rubber match should they happen to remain undefeated heading into Friday’s Final Four

“After that loss, we were mad and we were in the gym the very next day,” begins Rowell. “And we’re happy it happened because now we’re fired up.”

That, of course, would mean a clash against her two cousins, the Panthers’ sister duo of Sienna and Marin Lenz, also B.C. Top 15 honourees this season.

Boy, those basketball conversations must be lively every time the two families get together for dinners?

“We are really close and we hang out at family things but we don’t talk about basketball,” Rowell pleads. “Really, it just never comes up.”

One topic that does is just how ready and rested the Gators will be, especially with Rowell, Rathler and Wisotzki logging so many minutes this season.

“After a couple of the games, I’ve just been super tired but you can’t much about it,” she admits. “We don’t have many players. Now we’ve all started to take ice baths. But I am the wimpiest one of all. Jess and Nat are way more brave. I just put my legs in.”

Yet if she was just dipping her toes in the figurative waters of the B.C. championships last season, there is little question that Tavia Rowell is ready to dive in head first come Wednesday.

“I definitely feel more prepared,” she says. “Last year coming in, I was super nervous When you get older, you feel more calm. You know that whatever happens, it will be good because we’re all ready to work for this together.”

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