The Panorama Ridge Thunder were the Surrey Fire Fighters Goodwill Senior Girls Basketball Classic winners in 2017. (Submitted photo)

Firefighters basketball classic shows ‘Goodwill’ from Surrey’s high school girls

The 17th annual edition of the tournament highlights some of Surrey’s best on the court

SURREY — For the 17th year, Surrey’s top high school girls basketball teams are competing for local supremacy.

The Surrey Firefighters Goodwill Sr. Girls Basketball Classic is happening this week at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary until Saturday (Jan. 13).

In the five years he’s been involved with the event, tournament co-chair Adam MacEwan has noticed that the popularity of the tournament has grown.

“It’s gone from trying to get 20 schools involved to now, every school in Surrey that can put a team together wants to be involved,” said MacEwan. “I’ve seen the popularity from coaches, parents and the girls. They all really look forward to this tournament every year. It’s a big one on their calendar.”

More involvement from teams around the city should create better competition, which will be needed to knock off some of the heavyweights in the tournament.

Panorama Ridge is the defending champion from last year, as they beat Lord Tweedsmuir – the tournament host – in the finals.

Tweedsmuir has always been a strong team in the tournament, winning the 2016 edition as well.

Fleetwood Park and Holy Cross were the other two previous winners, and both teams are expected to be competitors once again this year.

One dark horse in the tournament will be Southridge. The private school hasn’t participated in the tournament recently, since their winter break falls later than public schools. With the Goodwill Classic falling on a later date this year, the provincially-ranked Southridge team will get a chance to participate.

Other teams to consider are up-and-comers from Sullivan Heights and Semiahmoo.

“Tweedy has been the powerhouse for the last couple of years, but we’re seeing schools like Sullivan Heights and Semiahmoo come out,” MacEwan said. “They’ve had young players playing for the last couple of years who should take another step this year. I think we’re seeing a bit of a changing of the guard.”

Aside from the teams in action, one of the most impactful parts of the tournament is the scholarships that get handed out to the students.

“It blows me away when I read these scholarships,” said MacEwan.

“The amount of commitment and involvement from these girls, aside from sports, is truly impressive. It’s inspiring to see how much these girls take on in their lives, and to see how well they do with it.”

MacEwan said that some of the girls applying have been volunteering consistently since grade nine, which bodes well for their chances to grab some of the bursaries and scholarships handed out.

The Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society bases the scholarships on volunteer work, references and grades. Over the years, the society has handed out more than $75,000 in scholarships to senior high school girls in the tournament.

Westland Insurance donates $7,500 to the tournament, with most of that money going to seven scholarships for the girls.

CLICK HERE for more on the tourney.

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