One week after the BVCS junior boys and girls won their zones, the senior boys and girls took care of business at their zone tournaments.
The boys entered their one-game elimination tournament as the number three seed, up against teams from Hazelton, Houston Christian, Houston Secondary and GM Dawson, from Masset.
The BVCS boys met Houston Christian in their first game on Saturday afternoon.
It was a tightly contested match between the tournament’s number two and three seeds.
Aaron Steenhof and Ty Goodson led the way, scoring the bulk of the Royals’ points. The entire team bought into a tight, defence-first system that held Houston off the scoreboard in the game’s crucial moments.
“We played a really good defensive team game, and some of our boys from the bench stepped up and had to play substantial roles. They did a really good job,” head coach Chris Steenhof said.
In the end, BVCS came out on top 64-60, in a nail-biter, to advance to the final against the Hazelton Spartans, who defeated Houston Secondary in the other semifinal.
BVCS didn’t get off to the start they were looking for against Hazelton.
The Spartans went up early and often, eventually building a 20 point lead midway through the second quarter. BVCS geared their game plan towards forward Colton Murell, opting to collapse down low to prevent easy buckets, but Hazelton adjusted and made all their outside shots early on.
“They were hitting everything,” Steenhof said. “They were firing on all cylinders and we couldn’t do anything to stop them.”
As the first half drew to a close, Hazelton began to miss some of their outside shots, and, to their credit, the Royals never gave up.
A flagrant foul against Royals’ forward Ty Goodson, forced their all-star to leave the game, but his teammates rallied around them.
“I really think that turned the momentum of the game around. The boys just decided that they were going to go out there and win the game for him”
Steenhof also switched in defensive replacement Josh Veenstra, in an attempt to neutralize Murell. The move worked and drew, not only the praise of Steenhof, but also of senior girls head coach Ron Van Driel, who was watching on the sidelines.
“It was just incredible what Josh was able to do against their big guy,” Van Driel said.
With Hazelton struggling to score, BVCS was able to come back and tie the game and send it to overtime, behind a key three-point shot from Caleb Groot in the game’s waning moments.
In overtime, the Royals kept hitting their shots and the Spartans struggled from the foul line.
In the end, the Royals held on for the victory, to advance to provincials.
“That was one of the most exciting basketball games I have ever been a part of, it was incredible,” Steenhof said.
“Hazelton played really well. I would like to give them a lot of credit. Both teams competed hard and left it on the floor.”
Aaron Steenhof was named tournament MVP and Ty Goodson was selected to the all-star team.
A month ago, it didn’t look like the Royals would be in this position. After a rough stretch in early January that caused their head coach to call out the team’s effort, they’ve stepped up their game and came together as a team.
“I think the Mountain Invitational changed things,” Steenhof said. “We played so terribly, but, from that point on we didn’t lose a game. The guys turned it around mentally and really improved their effort level.”
Now, the Royals will gear up for provincials, which take place in Langley over the second weekend in March.
“It’s a bit of a surprise for us to be there, but just going is going to be a great experience. We just want to compete hard and see what happens.”
The Royals will be up against 15 other teams from around the province and will enter as the 11th seed.
The BVCS senior girls also qualified for provincials, but their run to the finals was much easier by comparison.
They coasted to victory over Houston Secondary in their semifinal matchup on Saturday to advance to the final against Hazelton.
“It was a good win for us,” Van Driel said. “Everyone got some playing time and our juniors got lots of minutes, which was a good opportunity for them.”
It was more of the same for the Royals girls in the final.
They built up an early lead and were never really challenged, which surprised Van Driel.
“I thought they would give us a run, but they just had too much trouble scoring.
The zone victory didn’t come as a surprise.
“I think we knew that we were the favorites heading in, we just had to make sure that we played solid basketball.”
Christiana Rietsma was named tournament MVP and Rebecca Kingston was selected to the all-star team.
The girls will head to Lumby for provincials in two weeks’ time. Last year the girls went in ranked 12th, this year they’ll be a little higher in the seven-to-eight range.
“Our goal is going to be to finish in the top half, maybe win two or three games. It just depends on how things go.”
The back-to-back weekends of zone titles capped of a banner year for basketball at BVCS with four of five teams finishing first and the fifth, the Grade 8 boys, taking home second in their tournament.
“I don’t think that’s ever happened before,” Van Driel said, of the four zone wins. “It’s quite amazing really, especially with our rosters being so small. We’ve had a lot of our younger kids provide good support for the older ones.”