Sports

Peninsula hoops teams set to square off during rivalry week

Earl Marriott and Elgin Park players battle for a ball during a Rivalry Week game last season. The two teams – plus Semiahmoo – will all square off again next week. - File photo
Earl Marriott and Elgin Park players battle for a ball during a Rivalry Week game last season. The two teams – plus Semiahmoo – will all square off again next week.
— image credit: File photo

South Surrey’s three public high schools are getting set to renew acquaintances on the basketball court.

Next week, Elgin Park, Semiahmoo and Earl Marriott secondaries’ senior boys hoops teams will play a series of three games against each other as part of Rivalry Week, which is now in its second year.

The three-game showdown – all of which are Fraser Valley Southwest league contests – begins Monday, when Semiahmoo heads to Earl Marriott. Tuesday, Marriott will travel down 16 Avenue to square off against Elgin Park on the Orcas’ court, and the week wraps up Wednesday when Elgin plays at Semiahmoo.

All three games will tip off in early afternoon during school hours – the first two game are 1:30 p.m. starts and the third tips off at noon – so students can have the chance to cheer on their teams.

“We’re just trying to amp everything up,” Lefurgy, who helped spearhead the rivalry-week idea last season, said earlier this season.

The last few years, success on the senior boys basketball court has largely been the domain of the Peninsula’s private schools, as White Rock Christian Academy (in AAA) and Southridge (in AA) have both been frequent participants in their respective provincial tournaments.

In fact, no South Surrey public school has qualified for senior boys AAA provincials since the 1970s, though Elgin Park came close once or twice in the mid 2000s.

And while having a South Surrey public-school entry into the AAA tournament is something Lefurgy – as well as Marriott coach Christopher Finlay and Elgin coach Bill Dosanjh – would love to see, next week’s Rivalry Week is simply about increasing interest in the sport at all three schools.

Rivalry Week won’t be the first time the three squads have battled it out for local bragging rights.

From 1977 until 2001, Earl Marriott and Semiahmoo used to face off annually for the Van Ieperen Cup – named for former Semi vice-principal Ray Van Ieperen. In 2001, the battle for the cup was expanded into a three-team format that included Elgin Park.

The three-team event – which for a brief time was also re-christened the Peace Arch News Basketball Classic – lasted until the the late 2000s, when the mini-tournament fizzled.

Last year, the inaugural rivalry week was “a huge success” Lefurgy said. The games included performances from school bands, and other fan-friendly activities to augment the on-court action.

“Quite often, we’re playing games on weeknights, so we’ll get a few people out, but this will be a lot different, a much better atmosphere with all the students,” said Finlay. “It’s just a good way to promote the sport here in the community.”

Alumni games

Both Semiahmoo and Earl Marriott will be welcoming back some former basketball players for alumni games this month.

Semiahmoo will host its alumni night Wednesday evening, with a girls alumni game set for 6 p.m., followed by former members of the senior boys team hitting the court at 7:30 p.m.

Lefurgy said there are still a few spots available for any hoops alums who want to take part; $20 gets you a spot in the game and also an alumni T-shirt. Contact him at lefurgy_e@surreyschools.ca for more information.

Earl Marriott will host its alumni game Dec. 20 at 1 p.m., and Finlay expects a good turnout.

“I think most players from the last couple years will be coming out,” he said.

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