Bird is the word.
Especially when it comes to basketball.
Approximately 400 Grade 9 basketball players will be flying high Friday through Sunday when they gather on the Semiahmoo Peninsula to compete in provincial championships – and at Fleetwood Park and Sullivan Heights secondary schools in Surrey, where the Grade 8 provincial basketball championships are being held today (Thursday) through Saturday, and hundreds more will compete.
For the Semiahmoo Grade 8 girls Thunderbirds – undefeated 23-0 this season – winning provincials is the final goal.
“That’s been our goal all year – win Surreys, win the South Frasers, then win provincials,” said Thunderbirds head coach Kylie Cross.
“The team is very excited. They know they have a big ‘X’ on their backs and everybody is out to get them, but I think that gives them more drive.”
Grade 8 boys and girls basketball teams – 16 teams each – will play through Saturday in the provincial competition, which has been re-named the Coach Goulet Grade 8 Championships in honour of renowned late Pitt Meadows Secondary coach Rich Goulet.
Find all the tournament info at the website, https://coachgouletgr8championships.com/
The Grade 9 boys basketball tournament is being hosted by Earl Marriott Secondary, with Elgin Park serving as a secondary site, while Semiahmoo Secondary will be host to the special 3-on-3 playoffs, which were added last year as an experiment and have proved even more popular this year.
South Surrey’s Grandview Heights is the No. 2 seed heading into the tournament, just behind Vancouver College’s Fighting Irish.
Abbotsford’s Yale Lions are seeded in the 5th spot of 20; the South Delta Sun Devils are seeded at No. 8, with the Elgin Park Orcas seeded 12th, the Langley Christian Lightning seeded 14th, the Tamanawis Wildcats 17th, and the Semiahmoo Grade 9 boys Thunderbirds in the 19th spot.
One of the tournament’s directors, Rob Slavik – a former basketball player and coach himself, explained the 3-on-3 tournament gives players who didn’t make it to provincials another chance to play basketball.
“It’s just to create that opportunity,” he said, noting that hosting such a large tournament is not just a one-man show.
Other tournament directors and organizers include Steve Pettifer, Michael Pettifer, Caley Donaldson, Russ Heggie (Earl Marriott athletic director), Chris Ellet (Elgin Park athletic director), Adam Roberts (EMS), Kirk Homenick (EP) and Tony Chio (Semiahmoo Secondary athletic director).
“For a lot of these kids, it’s very hard to get to the provincial championship in any sport. For a lot of players, this is as high as it’s going to get for them. When you’re age – this is the biggest sports event that many of them have been to – it’s a huge, huge deal for them,” Slavic said.
The 3-on-3 teams go through “gruelling” playoffs all day Saturday at Semiahmoo, and the top four teams play at Earl Marriott on Sunday, before the final provincial playoff games.
Heggie noted EMS’s Grade 10 Leadership students are also helping at the tournament.
“We’re hoping we get some big crowds!” Heggie said.
“The energy and the excitement around the game of basketball right now has never been higher.”
Find details and information about the Grade 9 provincials at https://bcgr9boysbasketball.com/