After a weekend of zone tournaments in Smithers and Prince Rupert, the fates of local senior basketball teams have been determined, with mixed results.
Smithers Secondary School (SSS) and Bulkley Valley Christian School (BVCS) hosted a total of three Northwest Zone playoffs last weekend, including the Senior Boys A, Senior Girls A and Senior Girls AA tournaments. Some predictions turned out to be dead on, while there was at least one major upset by the end of play on Saturday.
In Senior Girls AA play, four teams – the SSS Gryphons, Charles Hays SS, Prince Rupert SS and Caledonia SS – played a double knockout format tournament. By the end of Friday night, SSS had clinched a spot in the final, while Prince Rupert and Charles Hays battled early Saturday morning to determine who would face the home team. The Prince Rupert Rainmakers picked up the win, and three hours later, hit the court against SSS.
At the end of the first half, the game was close enough that a few baskets could send the lead either way. However, the Gryphons brought out all the stops in the second half, winning the game 80-54, along with a spot in the Provincials.
“We took it away in the third, and we owned the fourth,” said coach Margaret Groves.
Smithers’ Morgane Cren won tournament MVP, and Groves said Kristi Pederson and Kaitlyn Harness really stepped up for the win as well. Groves also pointed out that every girl on the team is playing at a higher level than she had hoped for.
“I never thought we could have won the zones. It’s amazing how much these girls have improved,” she said.
In Senior Girls A action, Houston Christian School’s stellar team was expected to head home with a championship banner, and that’s exactly what they did, winning every game they played by a wide margin.
Ruth Hamblin won tournament MVP, while teammate Allison Seinen picked up the team’s All-star award.T
he big question mark was the second place spot. The silver medalists will have a chance to play the North Central zone’s third place finisher for a potential wild card spot at provincials.
The BVCS Royals started out with a close loss to Houston Secondary School, but rebounded with a win over Hazelton, and ended Saturday night playing a rematch against the Houston SS Wolverines for the chance at the wild card game. By the end of a close game, BVCS came out ahead, winning the game 53-47.
Paige Onderwater was named as the BVCS All-star, while Raj Parmar earned the honour for the Wolverines.
In Senior Boys A action, BVCS, Hazelton, Houston Secondary and G.M. Dawson Secondary from Masset battled for a spot in provincials. The tournament final saw the BVCS Royals facing the Houston Wolverines, a team the Royals had beaten both times they’d played earlier this season. However, by the half, the Royals had realized that new coaching help from Andrew Bonds was making a serious difference in Houston’s game.
“He wrote the game plan today,” said Wolverines coach and HSS principal Scott Jackson.
That game plan worked, as the Wolverines managed to upset BVCS with a 59-45 win.
“It was defensive intensity. I didn’t know we could play ‘d’ that way,” said Jackson.
Royals coach Chris Steenhof commended the Houston team on their increased energy and the use of their roster.
Steenhof said he felt bad that the two seniors on the Royals team wouldn’t be making the trip to provincials, but was proud of the team’s success this year and how hard they worked.
“They didn’t give up. They battled right to the end,” he said.
In Prince Rupert, the Gryphons Senior Boys team were playing for the Senior Boys AA zone title.
In Friday’s first game of the weekend, Coach Chris Van der Mark said the team was down by 17 at the half, but battled back to a single point deficit. However, the boys couldn’t hold on and lost the game 71-58. Nathan Murray scored 18 points for SSS, while Julius de Jong picked up 13 and Aaron Holdyk had 10.
On Saturday the Gryphons needed a win to carry on, but couldn’t get any closer than trailing by three points, and a few last minute three pointers gave the 79-67 victory to the Prince Rupert Rainmakers, ending the Gryphons’ season. Murray scored an impressive 28 points in the second game, with Holdyk putting in 13 and de Jong 11. Murray and de Jong were named All-stars.
“I’d like to congratulate departing seniors Jason Gagnier, Nick Thompson, Brandon Kennedy, Kenny Forbes, Julius Lingaard, Bronson Hidber, Aaron Holdyk and Nathan Murray, and thank them for their work,” said Van der Mark.
The SSS senior girls will be in Kamloops March 9 to 12 for AA Girls provincials, while BVCS will face the third place winner from the North Central Zone for a possible spot at the A Girls provincials, in Sparwood March 9 to 12.