There was no official trophy to mark the achievement – that’ll come in time for next year – but the Semiahmoo Totems are the champs of the first ‘Rivalry’ Week.
The weeklong event, which ran from Dec. 17-20, saw the senior boys basketball teams of all three South Surrey public schools – Semiahmoo, Elgin Park and Earl Marriott secondaries – square off in three games, one at each school.
Semiahmoo won both its games, defeating Earl Marriott 79-52 on Monday, and beating Elgin Park Wednesday by a 71-62 score.
Elgin Park went 1-1 after beating Earl Marriott, who finished 0-2, by a 85-66 score in the series finale Thursday afternoon.
But wins and losses aside, coaches from all three teams agreed that the concept – to create more basketball interest and boost school spirit – was a rousing success.
“It was a massive success – tons of fun,” said Totems coach Ed Lefurgy. “I had so many people come up to me at the games, telling me how good it was for school spirit.”
All three games began around the lunch hour, ensuring the gyms were packed with students – as opposed to most league games, which are played in the evenings and usually sparsely attended as a result.
“There was a really great buzz at our school, and that’s never really happened before for basketball,” said EMS coach Christopher Finlay.
The school bands even performed, too – at Earl Marriott Thursday, a group of musicians set up just outside the gym.
“The schools all made a big splash. It was nice to play in front of crowds like that,” said Elgin Park coach Dan Walker. “Everybody seemed to really have a great time.”
All three senior boys teams used to play for local bragging rights in an annual mini-tournament called the Van Ieperen Cup – which was founded in 1977 by then-Semiahmoo coach Rick Hill and named for longtime Semiahmoo vice-principal and basketball enthusiast Ray Van Ieperen. Semiahmoo and Earl Marriott played for the trophy each year, with Elgin Park joining the fray in 2001.
In the mid-2000s, the tournament was briefly renamed the Peace Arch News Classic before reverting to its original name, though the event has not been officially staged since 2006, when Elgin Park won.
At the Elgin Park-hosted game Dec. 19, Walker said his school’s junior teams came out to watch, as did many of the younger students.
“I thought it was nice for the younger kids to be able to see the seniors play. They probably hear about the team, but don’t get the chance to actually watch the older kids very often, or at all,” he said.
All three teams are now on a holiday break and return to league action the first week of January.