Surrey teams will be front at centre court when Fraser Valley basketball championships tip off across the region this week.
Senior boys and senior girls tournaments – at both triple-A and quad-A levels – began this week, with the senior boys hitting the court Wednesday, after the first-round of playoffs wrapped up last week. The senior girls’ Valley tournament was to begin Monday in gyms from Port Coquitlam to Abbotsford, including games at Semiahmoo Secondary, home of the No. 1-ranked Totems.
However, the Monday contests were postponed due to snow, and set to be rescheduled for later in the week.
At the quad-A senior boys level, Surrey squad dominates the top of the 24-team bracket, led by the No. 2-ranked Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers, who don’t play until the second-round Friday, after receiving a first-round bye by virtue of their high ranking. Other teams to earn a pass into the second round include the Holy Cross Crusaders (No. 3), Tamanawis Wildcats (No. 4) and the Semiahmoo Totems (No. 6).
Tamanawis defeated Semiahmoo last Thursday in the Fraser Valley Southwest final by a narrow 65-62 margin to earn the higher seed at the Valley showdown.
“It was a tough game, we would’ve liked to have won but it is what it is,” said Semiahmoo coach Ed Lefurgy.
“But we like our seed (heading into the Fraser Valleys.) The boys have worked hard…it’ll be a lot of fun.”
In the Fraser Valley Central division, Holy Cross defeated Fleetwood Park 82-78 in overtime, while Lord Tweedsmuir – which plays in the Valley East division – earned its high seed after getting the upper hand on Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat on Saturday, winning 79-68.
Other Surrey teams competing at the quad-A tourney include Fleetwood Park (No. 10), who, weather permitting, will square off against Panorama Ridge in first-round action Wednesday night at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary; Queen Elizabeth (No. 22), who will play Abby Sr. at Holy Cross; while Guildford Park (No. 12) will take on Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Rapids at Tamanawis Secondary; North Surrey (No. 19) will play Charles Best of Coquitlam, and in an all-Surrey battle to kick off the tournament, Enver Creek (No. 16) will play the Sullivan Heights Stars (No. 16) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary.
The playoff rounds will be staged at both Fleetwood Park and the Langley Events Centre, with the final set for Sunday, 8 p.m. at the LEC’s centre court.
The top seven Fraser Valley teams qualify for provincial championships, which will also be held at the LEC.
With seven advancing, it means the top teams, such as Tamanawis, Semi and Tweedsmuir, can guarantee a B.C. berth by winning their first two games.
“If you don’t win your first two, it becomes a lot harder – you’ll have to win two more games in three days,” explained Tamanawis coach Mike McKay. “So your focus really has to be on the first two games.”
The senior girls tournament, meanwhile, begins in South Surrey with No. 1-ranked Semiahmoo hosting Fraser Heights.
Newton’s Panorama Ridge Thunder, the 13th seed, were also in action late Monday, taking on the fourth-seeded Yale Lions from Abbotsford. Earl Marriott rounds out the Surrey contingent, as the 14th seed. They hit the court Monday against Riverside.
Considering the success they’ve had all season long, the Totems – with a starting lineup that features four Grade 10 players – are the favourites to still be playing late into the playoff rounds. Last year, the Totems finished third in the Valley, as a primarily Grade 9 team.
Despite their youth, this year’s group is a much more confident one, coach Lori Pajic told Peace Arch News last week.
“They were young last year… (playoffs) were new for them. They still played with extreme composure in spite of their age,” she said.
“You expect a young team to fold under pressure, but you don’t see it with these girls. They’ve been in such competitive environments from a young age, they’re OK with a little bit of pressure.”
The Fraser Valley championship’s playoff rounds are hosted at Riverside, and begin Thursday. The final game is set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
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