Savannah Dhaliwal (2) of the Panorama Ridge Thunder moves the ball past a Kelowna Owls opponent during a first round game at the B.C. Secondary Schools Girls AAA Basketball Championships at the Langley Events Centre. The Thunder placed seventh

Savannah Dhaliwal (2) of the Panorama Ridge Thunder moves the ball past a Kelowna Owls opponent during a first round game at the B.C. Secondary Schools Girls AAA Basketball Championships at the Langley Events Centre. The Thunder placed seventh

Panthers pleased with fourth at provincials

Best-ever finish for Lord Tweedsmuir’s senior girls basketball team

In the end, the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers had nothing left to give.

After advancing to the final four of the B.C. Secondary Schools Girls AAA Basketball Championships, the Panthers lost two in a row and placed fourth at the 16-team tournament at the Langley Events Centre.

Tweedsmuir was eliminated from championship contention with a semifinal loss to the R.A. McMath Wildcats 72-52 Friday night, then lost a playoff for third place 102-83 to the Oak Bay Breakers.

But Panthers head coach Curtis McRae insisted there were no regrets from the way the tournament – and their season – came to an end.

“We’re incredibly proud, we couldn’t have asked for more from the kids. For us, it’s been a fantastic year,” he said. “We had a couple of key injuries and a super short bench, but we work hard, we try to run and try to battle.

“But the girls just gassed out a bit.”

Lord Tweedsmuir finished second to the eventual provincial champion Brookswood Bobcats at the Fraser Valley tournament, then began the provincial championship with an 80-56 win over the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs and a 79-76 quarterfinal victory over the Riverside Rapids.

After the semifinal loss Friday night, the Panthers found themselves up against a difficult Oak Bay team in Saturday’s game.

“There was quite a size differential in this game, they have four girls that are six foot-plus, and our tallest girl is five-11,” said McRae. “But you know what, we battled hard and we worked and that’s all we can ask.”

McRae also noted it was the first time in school history the team had reached the final four of a provincial tournament.

“It’s been a phenomenal season for us. We placed second at the Fraser Valleys, and this was the first time our school had been to the semifinal of triple-A girls provincials.”

Ali Norris was a first-team all-star, and teammate Maryn Budiman was named to there second team. Shelvin Grewal was an honorable mention.

Norris is one of just three Grade 12s on the Panthers team, which has McRae looking ahead to next season.

“We fully expect to be back here again next year,” he said. “Our junior girls program has a great team that lost in the semifinals as well, so we’ve got four or five real quality girls who are going to come up and join almost our entire (senior) team.”

The Panorama Ridge Thunder placed seventh, exceeding expectations. The Surrey school was seeded 13th, but surprised the fourth-seed Kelowna Owls 63-61 on the first day of play. They then fell 76-69 to Oak Bay in the quarterfinal round, lost to the Claremont Spartans in their first consolation game before closing out their week with a 78-71 win over the Abbotsford Panthers.

Savannah Dhaliwal of the Thunder scored 28 points in the final game against Abbotsford, and was given an honourable mention on the all-star team.

The Holy Cross Crusaders qualified for the Senior AA provincial tournament, and won two of four games to place seventh.

The Fraser Valley champions were the seventh-seed for the tournament, and won their first game 73-62 over the Brittannia Bruins. The Crusaders then lost two in a row, 78-66 to the second-seed Immaculata Mustangs of Kelowna and 63-58 to sixth-seed Nechako Valley of Vanderhoof. On Saturday afternoon, Holy Cross got 35 points from Maria Palmegiani in a 64-48 win over the G.W. Graham Grizzlies in a rematch of the Fraser Valley final.

Palmegiani was a second-team all-star.

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