Game action during the Surrey RCMP Classic boys basketball tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Game action during the Surrey RCMP Classic boys basketball tournament. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

SCHOOL SPORTS

Surrey RCMP Classic starts Sunday, now that B.C. schools can play sports tournaments

The last Classic was played in January 2020, a few months before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic

High school athletes in Surrey and the rest of B.C. can now play in sports tournaments, thanks to updated pandemic guidelines from the Ministry of Education.

Thursday’s decision (Feb. 3) is timely for the Surrey RCMP Classic, which gets going Sunday (Feb. 6) after a month-long delay to the start of the all-Surrey boys basketball tournament.

“I’m pleased it got the go-ahead, because it was very frustrating,” tournament organizer Rick Inrig said Friday. “The fact that other community sports could go ahead with tournaments, but they held back the school program, I felt that was ridiculous. There was no common sense to that decision whatsoever.”

On Jan. 28, B.C. School Sports officials were “stunned” by a Ministry of Education decision to not allow school sports tournaments to take place in coming weeks, to align with the return of club and community tournaments starting Feb. 1.

Now they’ve now been given a green light.

Surrey’s week-long Classic opens with qualifying-round games in gyms at Lord Tweedsmuir and Clayton Heights – without spectators, in line with the new provincial guidelines. Not allowed are “external spectators indoors,” and tournament organizers are encouraged to provide “virtual viewing opportunities.”

Meantime, organizers of the all-girls Surrey Fire Fighters Goodwill Classic basketball tournament, postponed since early January, are now looking to play games from March 7-12.

• RELATED STORY, from 2020: Semiahmoo Totems top Tweedsmuir for Goodwill hoops title

The last RCMP Classic in Surrey was held in January 2020, a few months before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Cancelled was the 30th tournament, set for the early days of 2021.

“Last year was the first time in 30 years the tournament was not held,” Inrig said in November. “This will be the 30th now again, so we’ll take our second run at 30.”

Among Canada’s largest high school basketball tournaments, the Surrey RCMP Classic involves close to 700 teen athletes in what has become a city championship, and a barometer for success in playoffs.

“The seniors are playing games Sunday, and the juniors will too, for play-in day, and their tournament continues in early March, that first week of March,” Inrig noted. “The juniors have started playoffs now, so we didn’t want to compete with that. We have a few days following the junior boys provincial championship that are open, when the senior girls are playing at the LEC (Langley Events Centre), so we’ll go for those four days then.

“For the seniors, they’ll continue on right after with their own playoffs, with Fraser Valleys and then provincials. It’s good timing for that, for sure,” Inrig added.

• RELATED: Surrey school gyms have some bounce again as basketball season starts.

This year’s Classic involves some schedule changes. Semiahmoo Secondary’s team has pulled out of the tournament due to scheduling conflicts, Inrig said.

“Grandview is coming in, and they’re excited to be part of it. We’ll move Southridge into Semiahmoo’s spot in the schedule, and then Grandview takes Southridge’s spot.”

The 2022 Classic finals will be played Saturday, Feb. 12 at Enver Creek Secondary’s gym.

Last time around, during an all-cat fight in the 2020 Classic championship game, Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers scratched their way to a 67-64 win over Tamanawis Wildcats in the senior division final, in a packed gym at Enver Creek. It was the Cloverdale school’s first ever senior-division win at the Classic, after earning eight top-five finishes since the tournament began in 1992.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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B.C. High School BasketballHigh school sports

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