Coach Darren Rowell could not have drawn up a better start to the season: 11 games and 11 victories for his Walnut Grove Gators senior girls basketball team.
“It has been a great start. I knew we would be competitive but I didn’t know we would be in that upper echelon,” he admitted.
The Gators showed they are worthy of the current No. 1 ranking among all B.C. 3A senior girls basketball teams, winning the prestigious 2017 Tsumura Basketball Invitational tournament over the weekend at the Langley Events Centre.
In Saturday’s championship final, Walnut Grove beat the Abbotsford Panthers 75-65.
“The Tsumura is a really big one because most of the top teams are there so it is a really good mid-season check to see where you are at,” Rowell said.
“We are really competitive with all the top teams so we are really happy about that.”
The Gators’ Jessica Wisotzki scored 41 points in the victory, on her way to capturing tournament MVP honours.
“I am not totally surprised, she has been playing well all season,” Rowell said about his Grade 11 shooting guard stepping up her game. “Maybe not scoring 41 points but she has been scoring 30 and has really shown a great leap from last year and her ability to finish at the basket.
“Just great hands and a wonderful touch around the basket and (she) has really become more physical in her finishing in traffic.”
This was the third straight tournament the Gators have won to open the season.
In Walnut Grove’s other games, they beat Britannia 57-38 in the opening round and knocked off Claremont 93-66 in the quarter-finals. The Gators nearly reached the century-point mark in a 96-78 win over Semiahmoo in the semifinals.
The Gators were one of two Langley teams at the tournament, alongside the Brookswood Bobcats.
The ’Cats went 3-1 but unfortunately, their lone loss came in the opening round 64-61 to Semiahmoo Totems, relegating them to the consolation side. Brookswood did respond with three straight wins to finish in ninth spot, beating Sullivan Heights, Britannia and South Kamloops.