The youngest team made one of the biggest splashes at BC High School Triple-A Senior Girls Basketball Championships last, as the Semiahmoo Totems finished fourth overall.
The team is a senior squad in name only – Priya Gillan is the only Grade 12 on the roster – and the team is otherwise led by a crew of youngsters, including six Grade 9s.
But despite their relative inexperience, they narrowed missed a spot on the provincial podium, losing the third-place game 82-74 Saturday to Abbotsford, one of the oldest teams in the tournament, and one that spent time this season ranked No. 1 in B.C. triple-A rankings.
The Totems weren’t the only Surrey team to finish well inside the top-10; Sullivan Heights finished seventh overall, after being knocked from contention Thursday after losing 63-55 to Abbotsford.
The Totems were knocked from championship contention in semifinals Friday night at the Langley Events Centre, after an 81-59 loss to the Kelowna Owls, who went on to win the championship game Saturday over Walnut Grove.
“It just wasn’t to be,” said Semiahmoo coach Allison McNeill, the longtime coach of both Simon Fraser University and the Canadian women’s national team.
“The team played really well, but Kelowna was just too tough on the day we played them, and then they ended up winning it. They’re a good team.”
The Owls, who were seeded No. 3 heading into the tournament, were led in semifinals by Arizona State University-bound Taya Hanson, who finished the game with 26 points, 10 rebounds and four steals.
Semiahmoo, meanwhile, got a double-double – 21 points and 12 rebounds – from Grade 9 Izzy Forsyth.
Kelowna was in control of the game from the outset, and led by 20 points at halftime, but McNeill was still impressed with the way her young squad handled itself.
“Kelowna handled us, but we competed hard and did some really good things,” she said.
In the third-place game against senior-laden Abby – runners up at last year’s provincial tournament – McNeil was again complimentary of her team, especially the resiliency players showed in battling back from an early double-digit deficit.
Semiahmoo trailed by “15 or 17 at one point” McNeill explained, but battled back to bridge the deficit to just two, before Abby’s top player went on a run to ice the game for the Fraser Valley squad.
“We came back, I thought we had a chance… but they have a very good player, Sienna Lenz, who is going to SFU next year, and she just kind of took over,” said McNeill.
“But we competed well for having six Grade 9s… we’re the youngest team by far, and it’s good to know we could play in those pressure situations and play well.
“I think they’ll be really motivated to get in the gym, work harder and come back next year.”
After an opening-round win on Wednesday against New West, Semiahmoo won its quarter-final tilt Thursday against Langley’s Brookswood Bobcats. In that game, Grade 9 guard Deja Lee led the offence, with 25 points and seven assists, while Grade 11 Faith Dut finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds.
At the conclusion of the tournament, Forsyth was named a first-team all-star, while Dut was chosen for the second team. Sullivan Heights was named the tournament’s most sportsmanlike team, and guard Emma Kramer was an honourable-mention all-star.