The Smithers Secondary Girls basketball team has high expectations for this season. They met some of the toughest competition in the province last weekend in Abbottsford. Contributed photo

Gryphons take on top teams

Smithers Gryphons girls basketball team off and running last weekend as they headed to Abbottsford.

If you want to achieve the best you can be, it’s necessary to get out of the comfort zone and compete against opposition that will take you to your limits. As a result, the Smithers Secondary Gryphons girls basketball team was off and running last weekend as they headed to the Skyline Invitational held at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbottsford.

The tournament, which featured the best AA and AAA teams in the province, proved to be as much as the local team could handle and provided them with an opportunity to discover the strengths and weaknesses they will need to work on as they begin their quest for a high provincial ranking by the end of the season.

Coach Chris van der Mark was pleased with the one win and three loss record the team finished the weekend with.

“It was the first time that the girls had played a game together since March, and we’ve only had one full practice,” he said, and as a result they were a bit rusty in their execution.

Their first opponents were the top-ranked South Kamloops squad and despite an energetic game, they came away with a 52-20 loss.

There would be no slack in the schedule as they came up against the number seven ranked Okanagan Mission. van der Mark felt that the team put together a much more competitive game but still came away on the losing end of a 52-32 score.

“Their work ethic was very strong but finishing at the offensive end was a problem,” he said.

Not to make excuses but in terms of some explanation, van der Mark said that many of the opposition players had access to club teams throughout the year and that some of the players were members of national teams.

In their third game, things started to come together much better as they played Delta. Despite falling behind early, they regrouped and started to find their shooting range, and pulled out a 41-35 win.

Their final game was against a very tough Sardis team. A very poor first half left them in a very big hole and despite a very good second half, they lost 58-35.

van der Mark is optimistic about what the competition showed for the team.

“It is also exciting to note that we had only Grade 11 players on the floor, and that bodes well as we look to break into the top 10 this year and maybe even higher next year with a roster of primarily Grade 12s,” he said.

Olivia Davey, Haley Hanchard, Tamiya Ness, and Braelyn Berarducci all received player of the game honours, and all players showed very good moments.

The girls next head to Prince George this Thursday and Friday where they will play another top team in the sixth-ranked Duchess Park Condors at the annual Condor Classic.

sports@interior-news.com

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