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BC AAA Girls Provincials - Day 1 Previews & Match-ups

Updated: Mar 1, 2018

Heritage Woods will be making their first appearance in the BC Senior Girls Championships. This season, the Kodiaks finished 10-0 in the Coquitlam district, as well as winning the Coquitlam Championship. They are led by standout guards Hailey Counsell, who is averaging 22 points per game, and Jenna Griffin, a grade 10 who is averaging 20 points per game.

They will be facing Kelowna in the first round of the tournament. Kelowna is one of the tournament favourites and features Arizona State commit Taya Hanson and Kennedy Dickie — so it will be a challenge for the Kodiaks.

The Argyle Pipers are looking to continue their excellent play this week, coming into provincials hot off a buzzer beater win over the Carson Graham Eagles in the Crehan Cup Lower Mainland Championships. The Pipers defeated the Eagles in a tightly contested battle, with wing Chloe Walton draining a corner 2 with 0.1 seconds remaining to secure the Lower Mainland AAA title.

“When we got to the North Shore playoffs, we ended up having to beat both teams. We beat Handsworth, then went to Carson and beat them in their gym to win the North Shore title. When we went to Lower Mainlands, we went up against one of the top coaches, Doug Woodward [of the New West Hyacks], and we actually played probably our best game of the year so far,” elaborates Head Coach Anthony Beyrouti.

The Pipers are heating up at the perfect time and everyone associated with the program is excited about this coming week of the AAA provincials.

“To see them start where they were and then kind of slide right into playing really high quality basketball down the stretch has been really fun,” says Beyrouti.

Argyle is looking to start off their provincial run on the right foot, winning their first game against the Yale Lions, who had to win a play in game to qualify.

The Yale Lions are coming into the AAA provincial tournament this week after placing sixth in the Fraser Valley tournament. With a loss to Walnut Grove in the Fraser Valley Second Round, the Lions needed to win their next game to keep their provincial hopes alive.

They went on and defeated Abbotsford school MEI and that placed them in an intense matchup with the Brookswood Bobcats. With 6 seconds left in that game, and the score tied 66-66, the Lions’ Tana Pankratz took an inbound pass and hit a buzzer beater floater, giving them the victory and a spot in the fifth place game.

With only 5 teams guaranteed a spot in the provincials, the Lions battled a tough Riverside team till the end, narrowly losing 70-69. Riverside took the victory and the last guaranteed spot from the Fraser Valley.

Nonetheless, the Lions had one last chance to make it to the big dance through a backdoor wildcard game against Nanaimo, in which they dominated and came out with not just the victory, but a spot in the provincials.

If you’re looking for a favourite in this year’s AAA girls provincial championship, the Oak Bay Bays have to be near the top of the list. They completed another dominant regular season and now have their eyes set on a provincial title.

“We went 8-0 in Lower Island (Victoria) league play, then won the City Championship by eight over Claremont” said Rob Kinnear on his regular season talking to BC Sports Hub. “We then won the Island Championships again beating Claremont in the finals, this time by seven points. We were up 19 in the fourth and they made a huge run to get it within five.”

One of the keys for Oak Bay heading into provincials is to translate their dominance from the regular season into tournament play. It’s a different atmosphere altogether in the Langley Events Centre, but Kinnear feels his team is up for the challenge.

One of the Bay’s standout players is Georgia Alexander. One of the top 20 grade 12 players according to BC Sports Hub, she will likely be a force during this provincial tournament.

“She is a matchup nightmare as she is 6'3 with great post moves, but can shoot it out to the three point line and attack from there with ease. It is nearly impossible to guard her with one player, you usually need to double in the post, and bring help if she is on the perimeter.”

The Brookswood Bobcats will be in tough against Oak Bay in the first round of the AAA girls Provincial Championships. Brookswood finished seventh at the Fraser Valley regionals, while Oak Bay finished first in the Vancouver Island tournament. Last year, they finished third and had current Gonzaga freshman Louise Forsyth to rely on.

This year, they are led by standout guard Jenna Dick — Brookswood will most likely have to rely on her offensively. If they win, they will have to face Semiahmoo or New Westminster, two strong programs.

The Semiahmoo Totems may be young, but they have had great success so far this season. They finished 25-7 and are ranked fifth in the AAA girls provincial rankings.

A terrific regular season, and even more impressive when you realise that they have six different grade nine’s on their team Izzy Forsyth, Deja Lee, Tara Wallack, Rashaun Bindra, Nicole Pajic, and Emma Wubbs. All of them played together on a team that won the invitational Grade 8 BC Tournament last season.

But this team also has a veteran presence that will be key if they want to advance. Players like Faith Dut, a 6’3 post player should be leaned on to make a potential deep run. The lone Grade 12 on the team is Priya Gillan, who recently committed to play soccer at Illinois State as a goalkeeper.

But perhaps the catalyst of this team is Izzy Forsyth. An All-Star at both the UFV and Yale Tourneys, Forsyth comes from a basketball family. Her sister Louise is a freshman at Gonzaga University after averaging 31 points at Brookswood. Her mother and father also both played Basketball at UBC.

Semiahmoo will play the New Westminster Hyacks in the opening round at 1:45 pm at the Langley Events Centre. The Hyacks feature Sarah Forgie, one of the top 20 grade 12 players according to BC Sports Hub.

The New Westminster Hyacks are coming into provincials with a senior-laden group of players and coaches, looking to end off their high school careers with a win after a tough loss to Yale in last year’s BC Wildcard game which knocked them out of provincial contention.

With an undefeated league record at 7-0 and an impressive 30-3 overall record, the Hyacks qualified for the AAA provincials through a huge win against McMath in the 3rd place game of the Crehan Cup Lower Mainland Championships.

New West coach Doug Woodward was very impressed with his team’s performance in that crucial game and hopes the momentum of that game flows into the Langley Events Centre at the end of the month.

“Our game against McMath showed that we can play good defence against a very good offensive team,” says Woodward.

New West has some impressive tournament wins this year, placing first in the Collingwood Tournament, the Bob Gair Classic, the STM Chancellor Tournament, along with their own New Westminster Tournament.

Other teams in the AAA field will need to find a way to stop senior New West guard Sarah Forgie, who has received high praise from coach Woodward for being a great team player.

“She is a great passer, she sees the whole court, and makes all her teammates better” Woodward said. “She’s a super shooter inside and out and leads our team in blocked shots.”

This year is a special one for the Hyacks, as coach Woodward is ready to step down from the reigns as coach and teacher at New Westminster Secondary, ending his high school career after 44 years.

Just like a relentless wave crashing on a sandy shore, the Riverside Rapids are going to the Provincial Championships for their 12th time. Prior to last year, Riverside went 10 years in a row.

This year, the Rapids are matched up against the Island school, Claremont Spartans. Although the girls are heading in as a honourable mention, head coach Paul Langford says the team does not put much emphasis on their opponents.

“We don’t really worry about our opposition too much because we know that anybody can beat us,” says Langford. “We also think we can beat anybody.”

Coach Langford has been with the Rapids for 20 years and has coached both girls and boys, in general, since 1974. He’s optimistic about this year’s matchup given the solid group of girls he has on his team.

Standouts include Grade 11s Jessica Parker (16 points per game), Tessa Burton (12 points per game), and Alanya Davignon (8 steals per game), as well as Grade 9 Sammy Shields, who has hit double figures in clutch games.

“I think we’ve got lots of potential. We don’t have any height, so they have to play a really high level of game and they have to be after the ball on defense. And offensively, we need to shoot the ball very well because we don’t get very many rebounds,” says Coach Langford.

The team will prepare for Claremont just like they have for any other opponent: with execution and rest.

The Claremont Spartans come into the BC Provincial tournament as one of the top teams from Vancouver Island. They finished with a 25-8, and 7-1 in league play.

“[We had] a good record as we chose to play a very strong schedule this year and only one of the losses suffered was to a team that was ranked below number six at the time” said head coach Darren Reisig. “[We were] top five at the Christmas tournament and top six at the TBI in December, and that got us off to a good start and showed ourselves where we sat in the overall province and its teams.”

Claremont are led by a trio of grade 12’s — Sierra Reisig, Maddie Manns, and Chloe Scaber. All three have been playing basketball with each other since the sixth grade and all three will likely “be playing next level basketball at schools to be determined soon” said Darren Reisig. Sierra Reisig and Maddie Manns have been to a provincial championship together since grade seven, having been twice to the grade eight championships in Pitt Meadows, one as Claremont grade nine’s to the LEC and the Junior Championship, and then three times as starters on the sr team at Claremont.

The Spartans will be fortunate not to be seeded on the same side as Oak Bay. Claremont finished 2nd to them both in the city and island tournament, two losses that “two very close games that could have gone either way” according to Reisig.

Walnut Grove has been ranked in the top five all year while holding the number one spot for most of the year. For a lot of people they are heading into Provincials as the tournament favourite even with their loss to Abby Sr. in the Fraser Valley final.

The Gators have a dynamic scoring group where any number of their players can hurt you on any given night. They have three Fraser Valley All-Stars at the helm averaging 68.3 ppg, 15.3 assists, and an impressive 29.5 rebounds in Tavia Rowell, Natalie Rathler, and Jessica Wisotzki. All three create a nightmare front court for a lot of teams.

Walnut Grove’s length inside alters shots on defence, and their versatility on offence, including great three point shooting from Rowell, Wisotzki, and younger Sophia Wisotzki makes switching into zone defence a gamble.

The Gators are led by parents Darren Rowell, Juanita Rowell, and Marilyn Wisotzki. But don’t let the sideline parent fool you, they are a very experienced group.

Mt Baker Wild will be coming in as an underdog in this match up. However, this team from the Kootenays is no stranger to winning.

The Carson Graham Eagles will be coming into Provincials with a chip on their shoulder after their heartbreaking loss at the buzzer against Argyle in the Crehan Cup Lower Mainland AAA Finals.

Finishing the North Shore league with a perfect 6-0 record, the Eagles headed into the Lower Mainland tourney, hosting the finals in their own gym. They have had some tough breaks as of late however, losing to Argyle twice, once in the North Shore playoffs, and then ultimately in the Lower Mainland final.

Assistant coach Alex Bill has seen the growth of her team throughout the season and how every player has begun to step up.

“At the beginning of the season we’ve had one or two players that we relied on but now every player that has been playing has picked it up.”

The Eagles are led by the trio of Tanis Metcalfe, Gabby Channon and Alex Walker, whom all have grown throughout the season to become the leaders of the team. UBC-commit Metcalfe is the one to watch, standing at 6’2 with an impact like no other in the paint.

“Tanis has been great, she’s grown throughout the season and it’s exciting to see how she’s been stepping it up,” says Bill.

Looking forward to Wednesday’s matchup against the Sullivan Heights Stars, a team defeated by the Eagles early in the season, Bill is excited about the challenges they are bound to face.

“We’ve already played Sullivan Heights early in the season and we kind of know what to expect. They’ve also gotten better since then but so have we, so we’ve been adapting and we know what we’re looking for.”

The Sullivan Stars (ranked 7th heading into provincials) will take on the Eagles, who come in as a honourable mention.

Though the girls were unable to make it into the tournament last year, head coach Lani

Kramer says their goal was to do just that this year, something she’s proud of her

team for accomplishing.

“Once we achieved that, it took a big weight off our shoulders, because we’re going,

there’s only 16 teams that go and we’re one of them,” she said.

Lani has been coaching at Sullivan for five years, since her daughter Emma—one of

the Stars ‘star players’—was in Grade 8. Kramer’s younger daughter Sophia is also

on the team.

Emma will be following in her mom’s footsteps by going to play ball at Simon Fraser

University, something that Lani is very excited about.

Aside from her daughters, Lani has coached six of her players since Grade 8.

“They came in as elementary school basketball players and wanted to try out for the

team and made the team,” Lani said. “But they all stepped up and really improved,

and especially this year everyone knows their role, everyone plays within their role,

and that’s why we’ve had success.”

This will be Lani’s last year coaching at Sullivan.

The Abbotsford Panthers have clawed their way into provincials yet again, and will be duking it out against North Peace.

Last year, the Panthers were so close to taking home the gold, but lost in the finals to Lord Tweedsmuir.

Recently, Abby Senior won the Fraser Valley Championships by taking out number one ranked Walnut Grove in the finals by a score of 90-78.

Sisters Sienna and Marin Lenz — who happen to be the head coaches’ daughters — were named MVP and first team all-star, respectively.