Updated: Feb 4
This marks Part 4 of our Series: Connections and Chemistry where we explore connections and chemistry that make teams work.
David Prissinotti has been the Athletic Director at York House Secondary (YHS) since 1997, so he has been witness to a lot of change in his programs.
He was there when the York House Tigers Basketball team went on a roll during the early 2000’s: they played in the Championship Final at AA Provincials for Girls Basketball for 11 consecutive seasons (2002 to 2012), winning 8 AA BC titles. York House has continually pumped out basketball players that have played post-secondary basketball (more on this later).
In recent years, success has not been as bountiful in basketball. What changed? If you ask coach David Prissinotti, “things changed as our coaching staff changed... York House was very lucky to have dedicated coaches for so many of those years, but over time they got older, had families..." This is besides the fact that the type of success they were having could not be sustained forever (think about it... 11 CONSECUTIVE FINALS. ELEVEN).
Volleyball also started to really grow at York House. Club volleyball started to flourish, while club basketball options started to dwindle. The results started to pay off in 2014: York House has been a top AA Volleyball school since then and this past fall, won the AA BC title for the first time in York House history. The Tigers also captured the Grade 9 Volleyball Provincial title and multiple league championships at all grade levels.
But even though volleyball success has been taking over YHS, a positive change is coming back for the York House Tigers basketball program. A group of young talented players are starting to make themselves known. They have been playing from a young age and have been involved in club basketball in the city under coaches like Adriano Catena, Eric Butler (Split Second Basketball) and Anthony Beyrouti (VK Basketball). A group that won the Grade 8 BC's a few years back, have made the jump to Senior as Grade 10's; joining an already talented grade 11/12 squad.
"Being young, this is a transitional season but we are working hard to surprise some teams and hope to get experience to continue to compete among the best in BC over the next few years." - Coach Prissinotti
Coach Prissinotti may think this is a transitional season, but this group is already well on the rise and other teams know it. The York House Tigers started the year ranked #8 in AA and have bumped themselves up to #6 with the home stretch coming up. We have them ranked #18 in our latest power rankings, which takes into consideration all tiers. Do not sleep on these Tigers.
Connection: Coming back for more
The 11 consecutive trips to the finals began in 2002 following a 6th place finish in 2001. Leading the charge was Erin Allan who was named the AA BC MVP after helping lead the York House Tigers to the 2002 AA BC title in her grade 12 year. She would then go on to play at Brock University (two-time OUA All-Star) and then in Europe. From 2014 to 2016, she served as Assistant Coach for the University of Calgary.
Now? She's back coaching at York House. How did she end up back there? "Easy," says Erin, "Mr. P asked." Getting to continue to learn from Prissinotti was an opportunity Erin could not turn down. "He was great back then and he’s still great now. He's been around girls high school basketball for a long time," explains Erin when asked what it's like to get to coach with her former coach.
"I had a great high school experience and really loved York, so when asked to help out the basketball program it was an easy decision." - Erin Allan
Having coached at multiple levels, Erin doesn't have much preference of who she coaches, as long as they want to get better and have fun while doing it. But are there difference? Of course. "I would say, biggest difference is that at the high school level, girls are still deciding if they love the sport so it needs to be a bit more fun, not all work," explains Erin, "Whereas at university level most girls love the sport already and realize the work put in makes it even more fun!"
Hopefully these current Tigers get to have that same great high school experience that Erin had and that a few years down the road and we can write about how Erin Allan inspired them to get into coaching!
Chemistry: Young but Mighty
If you go watch the Tigers play, one of the first players you'll notice is Grade 11 Nadeen Wu. No, she's not so tall that you can't help but notice her (she's only 5'5"). It's her dynamic style of play that draws your attention.
When asked why Nadeen is able to be so dynamic, Prissinotti says "she loves competing and loves to play. She is very creative and has the skills to generate her own shot which is not common." She has gone off for 25+ points several times this season. But this is no one man show: according to her coach she is a great passer who can create for others, but also knows when to pick times to score for herself.
The best indicator of a great player is when you can make those around you better.
There are several players that compliment Nadeen's game well: Grade 10's Avery Ratcliffe, Finny Butler, Rain Thomas, and Mila Urban have all been playing basketball for years and know how to contribute (Finny just picked up an all-star at the VGBA Langara Challenge). Those four definitely take the load off of Nadeen so that she doesn't feel like she has to do it all herself. The Tigers are also going to need Grade 12 leaders Emma Wright and Akash Grewal to play key roles if they want to continue their success down the stretch.
With the new zone structure this year for BC High School Sports, the Tigers must surprise a few more teams in order to make it to provincials. The Vancouver Sea-to-Sky zone contains several ranked teams in #2 Britannia, #4 STA, #9 Seycove, and honourable mention Notre Dame. The biggest challenge? Only two of those teams (of the 13) will be guaranteed a spot at provincials. The others will have to hope for a wildcard.
This is nothing new for the Tigers, as the old Lower Mainland zone was always been a huge battle, often with 3-4 teams finishing among the top 6-8 in BC.
Preparation for the upcoming playoffs has worked out for well for the Tigers, as they have faced off against the Britannia Bruins in consecutive tournament finals. Coming up short in those games, the young Tigers have shown they can compete against a top team like Britannia that has two of the best, most seasoned players in BC (Surprise Munie and Shemaiah Abatayo).
Do not overlook this young York House Tigers team. These Tigers are rising.
Chinese New Year says it is the Year of the Rat, but with all the success they have had this season across all sports, I'd say it is the Year of the Tigers.
You can catch the York House Tigers in action this weekend at their 22nd Annual 26th St. Tournament - Kahunaverse Cup taking place at York House and Little Flower Academy. York House kicks off the action on Friday, January 31st at 12:45pm as they take on Hugh Boyd at York House.
Schedule for the two day tournament can be found here.
Written by: Katie Miyazaki