The Smithers Secondary Grade 8 girls’ basketball team did not finish provincials the way they wanted to, but they did bring home an award that says a lot more about their character: the most sportsmanlike award.
“There were lots of great comments on their conduct and their behaviour. It’s easy when you’re winning and it’s tough when you’re losing,” said head coach Chris van der Mark.
“From a coach’s perspective I’m very proud of how the girls represented their community.”
With a zone victory in their pocket last month, the girls went into provincials in Pitt Meadows ranked sixteenth.
First up, they tipped off against Walnut Grove, the top-ranked team in the province.
“We knew they were very good. They had a player who was ultimately MVP and could start on senior boys’ team,” laughed van der Mark.
“They’re a much bigger school and that’s part of the experience.”
In a tough first match, the Gryphons dropped the game 63-18.
“We were all working well together. We gave it 100 per cent,” said guard Olivia Davey. “The score didn’t even matter. We just never gave up.”
Coming off a rough loss, the team tried to rebound in the second game against Vernon.
Despite an “apocalyptically bad” second quarter, they closed out that game with a closer loss 41-26.
According to guard Aleigha Young-Lowry, the noisy and distracting environment was one that the team had trouble adapting to.
“There were lots of whistles going on because there’s two sides of the gym that were being played on,” she said.
“It was confusing sometimes because both sides had whistles. We got used to it.”
The Gryphons also played Lord Byng and the host team, Pitt Meadows, dropping both 33-21 and 34-32.
Though the Gryphons went win-less over the weekend, the players believe it was a learning experience.
“Now we know what it feels like and we don’t want it to happen again,” said Davey.
Van der Mark said the girls needed to know what it’s like to play against higher-calibre teams.
“Part of the reason they needed to go down was because they needed to lose, which sounds bad,”
he said. “They were very successful up here and they can stay up here and continue to be successful, but it’s easy to win. Losing adds a bit of character and helps you figure out what’s next.”
Young-Lowry agreed with her coach.
“I thought it was good to experience it and watch the other girls play because we got to learn from them,” she said.