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Connections and Chemistry: 2020 VGBA Langara Challenge - Part 1

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

Yesterday marked the start of the 2020 VGBA Langara Challenge, a girls basketball tournament in its 13th year for schools in Vancouver. It runs from January 23-25th, 2020 with the majority of the games taking place at Langara College.

Connections and chemistry are the keys to any team. The Vancouver Girls Basketball Association (VGBA) would not be possible without partnerships and connections. Most high school basketball programs rely on a team of volunteers and staff. Teams with the best chemistry tend to win championships. We are going to delve into some of the connections and chemistry at the 2020 VGBA Langara Challenge.

Connection: Father-Daughter/Athlete-Coach

You cannot get much more connected than blood. That is why we are starting off with a father-daughter relationship that at some point turned into an athlete-coach relationship too.

As a coach, you try not to have biases, but as a father, you may want to favour your daughter a little bit. This is the struggle for Simon Dykstra, the Head Coach of the Winston Churchill Bulldogs Junior Girls, as he coaches his Grade 10 daughter, Marah.

One look at Marah and you can tell she does not even need any biases from her coach/father: she stands over 6’0” and has length that makes for a solid basketball player, especially at the Junior level. When she rebounds, she makes sure to keep the ball high and protects it with her elbows. Right hand, left hand, she can finish with both. What more could you ask for?

You can tell Coach Dykstra may have experience using height, as he stands at least a head taller over all of his players. Watching the Bulldogs play, you can see they understand they have height over most teams. Besides Marah, the Bulldogs have five players over 5’10”. Compare that to their opponents yesterday, the Britannia Bruins, whose tallest player is 5’8”. Coming at you with guards that can drive the lane, the Bulldogs have a tough to defend pick and roll attack. There was a point in the game where Marah missed multiple shots in a row, but when you are 6’0”, there is not much other teams can do when you do not bring it down to their height. Coach/Father probably was not too happy about all the misses, but you cannot be too upset when you never give your opponents an opportunity to grab the ball.

Game Recap: Winston Churchill Bulldogs vs Britannia Bruins (Junior Girls)

Britannia scored the first basket of the game and that started a back and forth opening quarter. Churchill led 18-12 after the first quarter, thanks to some great feeds inside to their post players off pick and rolls and mismatch post ups. Britannia’s greatest strength might be their lack of a standout superstar, as they have tremendous passing and are always looking for the open player. Their best possessions were ones where the ball did not even hit the floor as it was passed around the outside until they had an open shot.

Britannia struggled to score to start the second quarter, as the height and length of Marah Dykstra and the tenacity of guards Amber Henrich and Claire Huang led to multiple blocks and steals for the Bulldogs. Coming out of a timeout with 4:37 left in the second quarter, the Bulldogs upped their on-ball pressure, challenging the Britannia players to beat them one on one. This worked well for the Bulldogs, as they won the quarter 15-2 and took a 33-14 lead into halftime.

Coming out of halftime, the Bulldogs came out flying. Forcing multiple turnovers, the Bulldogs started on a 13-0 run. A quick timeout by the Bruins led to their first score of the quarter courtesy of Alivia Nadrazsky and they followed that up with consecutive stops on defence. Bruin’s Chloe Nguyen would hit a shot near the end of the quarter to make the score 50-18 after three quarters. Chloe Nguyen would hit another shot to start the 4th, but the balanced attack of the Bulldogs would prove to be too much. A beautiful pass in transition from Anita Luong to Advienne Luong would lead to the last basket of the game and make the final score, 61-23.

The Bruin’s tallest player, Alivia Nadrazsky, took home player of the game honours for Britannia, while gritty point guard Claire Huang was named player of the game for the Bulldogs.

High scorers for the game were Marah Dykstra with 19 points and Claire Huang with 17 points, while Alivia Nadrazsky led the balanced attack of Britannia with 6 points.

The Dykstra’s and the Winston Churchill Bulldogs will be back in action today, Friday, January 24th, 1:00pm at Langara College for a semi-final match-up against Eric Hamber for a spot in the finals. The Britannia Bruins will take on York House in a public vs private school battle 3:30pm at Britannia Secondary.

More information and schedule/results can be found on the 2020 VGBA Langara Challenge website,

Part 1 of the series

Part 2 of the series

Part 3 of the series

Part 4 of the series

Written by: Katie Miyazaki

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