One Semiahmoo Totems basketball team will have to sneak in the back door if they wish to qualify for provincial championships, while another didn’t just waltz in the front – they kicked the door right down.
On Sunday evening at Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Secondary, Semiahmoo’s senior girls team cemented it’s provincial No. 1 ranking – a perch they’ve held all season long – with a 79-67 victory over the No. 2-ranked Walnut Grove Gators in the Fraser Valley triple-A championship game.
The only other Surrey team to finish in the top eight was Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, who placed eighth.
However, while the girls squad had no trouble advancing through their tournament, the school’s senior boys squad is now in what head coach Ed Lefurgy told Peace Arch News is “do or die” mode for the rest of the week. The boys team – which entered the tournament as the sixth seed – was upset in their first Fraser Valley game by Abby Sr., 104-101, which means they have to win all their remaining games in order to grab a provincial berth.
On Tuesday, they took the first step, defeating North Surrey, and played Walnut Grove late Wednesday.
The Tamanawis Wildcats, meanwhile, beat Seaquam in their first game Friday, but lost to W.J. Mouat Tuesday night. Holy Cross and Lord Tweedsmuir are also still in the hunt after each team won their first two games.
Unlike their Totem teammates, the road was easier for the senior girls, despite the fact they played four games in four days en route to the Valley banner. Snow-related school closures caused early-round games to be postponed from Monday and Tuesday until the end of the week.
“We ended up playing Thursday (through) Sunday, so it was a bit of a marathon,” said Totems co-coach Allison McNeill. “But we won our league so it was nice to play the first two at home. It was nice for our Grade 12s to be able to play again at home, and it was also nice not to have to travel – especially with all that snow.”
The wonky schedule did little to deter the Totems, who defeated Abbotsford’s Yale Lions in semifinal action Sunday. Earlier in the tournament, they earned wins over Fraser Heights and Abby Sr.
“We played quite well against Yale… and Walnut Grove was a hard-fought game and we played well in that one, too,” McNeill said.
Tara Wallack was named the most valuable player of the Fraser Valley tournament, Deja Lee was named a first-team all-star and Izzy Forsyth was picked for the second-team.
And though Wallack was certainly deserving of the MVP award, McNeill couldn’t help but heap praise upon her entire team – from starters to the bench players.
“Tara played well and she deserved it, but really, it was a great effort from everyone,” the former Canadian national women’s basketball coach explained.
“I thought Faith (Dut) played extremely well – she had 16 rebounds and 12 points in the final – and Izzy had 29 (points) and 13 (rebounds) in the final, too… and Deja and Raushan Bindra, at our guard spots, I think they combined for about 12 assists and eight steals.
“We had great performances off the bench, too. I know I’m naming everyone.”
Among those players to come into the game off the bench, McNeill singled out Emma Wubs, who had nine points and four rebounds, while Nicole Pajic was thrust into a defensive shutdown role against Grove’s top player, and “did a great job.”
“Everyone did what they were supposed to do for our team to win,” McNeill said, summing up Sunday’s final.
With the B.C. championships next on the horizon – the tournament runs Feb. 27-March 2 at the Langley Events Centre – McNeill said her group will need to continue to get contributions from everyone as the competition gets stiffer.
Semiahmoo finished fourth at B.C’s last year with a team made up primarily of Grade 9s. This year, McNeil expected the team to be even more motivated – especially the Dut, team’s lone Grade 12 starter.
“She really puts the team first and wants the team to do well, but there’s no doubt that you’ve got to have a little added motivation when you’re in Grade 12 because you don’t get another kick at the can.”
The quad-A senior boys tournament, meanwhile, continues throughout this week, and wraps up Saturday night at the LEC’s centre court. The final game is set for 8 p.m.
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