When Allison McNeill first began coaching her current Semiahmoo Totems basketball squad, she knew the talent was there, but never did she expect what has transpired over the past seven seasons.
On Saturday night in front of more than 1,200 fans at Langley Events Centre, the Totems dismantled the Terry Fox Ravens 114-62 to capture their second consecutive BC Senior Girls 4A Championship.
While winning a provincial title is always an impressive task, the Totems have done so without losing a single game in either campaign against B.C. competition. And it is not a matter of one player simply dominating to carry a team to a title as Semiahmoo has two championships with different players earning the Most Valuable Player Award.
In 2019 it was Deja Lee and this time around it was Tara Wallack. Both will be back for their Grade 12 season and there were no Grade 12s on this year’s squad meaning the squad should be primed for a run at a three-peat.
In Saturday’s championship game, Wallack scored 29 points while grabbing 23 rebounds and finished just two assists short of a triple double. She also added four steals and three blocked shots. She finished the tournament averaging 26 points and 15 rebounds.
Izzy Forsyth (20 points, eight rebounds, five assists), Nicole Pajic (18 points, seven rebounds, three assists), Raushan Bindra (11 points) and Emily Wubs (10 points) all reached double figures for Semiahmoo.
“Everyone is so versatile on our team it makes everything so much easier and a lot more fun,” Wallack said of the depth Semiahmoo enjoys.
As for winning back-to-back championships, Wallack had never thought this possible.
“I never imagined we could do this, but hard work pays off,” she said.
McNeill knew her team had a shot at a title last year but it was a big ask for a largely Grade 10 squad playing at the senior level against quality programs. This year she knew her team was the one to beat.
“Last year I didn’t know. We had played well but I didn’t know where we were at. But this year, I had a better indication and we were the team everyone was aiming at,” she said. “I am just proud because we have taken everyone’s best shot.”
The Ravens had the game’s first bucket and led for all of 11 seconds as the Totems hit a three-pointer and were off the races, leading 28-11 after one quarter and 66-28 at the half.
The final score resulted in two new tournament records for points in a championship game (the previous mark was 91 by Windsor in 1990) and combined points in a championship game as the 176 scored on Saturday bettered the previous mark of 162 from Salmon Arm’s 82-80 win over Mount Douglas in 1998. The Totems also set a record for points in a game in their opening round 126-27 rout of Prince George.
The old record was 116 points set by W.J. Mouat in 2011.
When all was said and done, Semiahmoo topped the 100-point mark three times in four games (they are first (126), third (124) and eighth (105) for points in a game and won by an average margin of 54 points per game.
They also only trailed for a total of 1:33 over the course of the 160 minutes of basketball they played.
The Ravens (who won the Junior Girls Basketball Provincial Invitational Tournament last year as Grade 9s with their own undefeated season) chose to play up at the senior level this season despite the fact they had just two Grade 12s and one Grade 11 among their 14 players.
Cerys Merton scored 16 points and Emily Sussex had 13 for the Ravens.
“We will grow from it. I knew it was going to be difficult especially without Lauren playing for us. My kids know how to battle, we just have to get a little older and get some experience from this,” said Ravens coach Mike Carkner.
In the third-place game, Yale defeated Walnut Grove 86-67.
All-Stars and Awards
Terry Fox’s Alisha Weloy was selected as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Izzy Forsyth (Semiahmoo), Deja Lee (Semiahmoo), Cerys Merton (Terry Fox), Ana-Maria Misic (Terry Fox) and Karishma Rai (Yale) were selected as First Team All-Stars.
Sammy Shields (Riverside), Rylee Semeniuk (Kelowna), Sophia Wisotzki (Walnut Grove), Kiera Pemberton (Walnut Grove) and Neelam Rai (Yale) were Second Team All-Stars.
Heritage Woods’ Jenna Griffin was the recipient of the Quinn Keast Scholarship.
And the John Oliver Jokers won both the Most Sportsmanlike Team Award and the School Spirit Award.