A couple of late baskets to close the second quarter and then a chance to regroup at halftime helped the Semiahmoo Totems rally from 17 points down to capture the school’s first senior girls AAA basketball banner since 1953.
The top-seeded Totems trailed the No. 2 Walnut Grove Gators 28-21 at the half but the largely Grade 10 squad flipped the script in the second half as their offence found life with 51 points over the final two quarters for the 72-61 victory on Saturday.
The teams were capping off the B.C. Secondary School Girls AAA Basketball Championships with close to 1,900 fans packing the Langley Events Centre.
Deja Lee – who was named both the Championship Player of the Game and the Most Valuable Player of the tournament – hit a pair of three-pointers to close the half, trimming the Gators lead from 13 points down to seven. Semiahmoo then preceded to open the second half on a 13-3 run. A few minutes later, the Totems took the lead and never looked back.
With a roster which starts four Grade 10’s and only one Grade 12, perhaps being on the big stage had the Totems out of their normal rhythm. After all, not only was this team chasing a championship, but they were also looking to cap off their season with a perfect 40-0 mark.
“At halftime I had time to settle them down and they settled themselves down,” said Totems coach Allison McNeill, who has national team and university coaching on her resume as well. “No one was in panic mode because we were only down seven and Walnut Grove had played us unbelievably tough in the first half.”
“We held Walnut Grove to 28 points at the half and we were non-existent offensively so at half-time, we weren’t panicked.”
Semi-tough! Totems shake early jitters on big stage, rally to top Gators for BC Quad-A crown; says coach "…their comeback was epic" https://t.co/hpU2xbNj0S @totemsbball @semisecondary @LangleyEvents @garyahuja1 @BCAAAGirlsBBall @VancouverSport1 @AllisonMcNeill @drowellhoops pic.twitter.com/u6Ee5j5jDr
— Howard Tsumura (@htsumura) March 3, 2019
Walnut Grove played a great first half defensively, but just could not put enough points on the board.
“They made it difficult for us to score and to move and to do what we wanted. They disrupted us. And once Ro fouled out, we had trouble stopping Faith,” said Walnut Grove coach Darren Rowell, referring to the team losing Ro Taylor with seven minutes to go and the Gators trailing by just a couple of baskets.
“The better team won. They had lots of weapons and they adjusted. And Faith (Dut) down the stretch was really tough to stop, she was great.”
“That was two teams battling and a lot of warriors on the floor,” McNeill enthused.
The Totems outscored Walnut Grove by 18 in the paint (largely due to Dut’s presence down low) as well as in steals, with 11 compared to Walnut Grove’s two.
The Gators were led by Wisotzki’s 28 points and 13 rebounds and 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists from Tavia Rowell. Taylor finished with six points and a dozen rebounds.
The Gators’ Sophia Wisotzki, who is just in Grade 10, won her second consecutive Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award as well as Second Team All-Star. Jessica Wisotzki and Tavia Rowell were both named First Team All-stars as was Forsyth for Semiahmoo while Dut and Wallack were Second Team All-stars selections for the Totems. And Fania Taylor, just in Grade 9 for Walnut Grove, was an Honourable Mention All-star.
For the Grade 12 core of the Walnut Grove squad, this marked a great five-year run for the program. The team won the provincial title in Grade 8 and finished second in B.C. in Grade 9. They moved up to senior for their Grade 10 year and then capped off their high school careers with back-to-back silver medals.
“Obviously you want to win but getting a silver medal is a huge accomplishment,” Rowell said.
In the third-place game, it was the Brookswood Bobcats defeating the Kelowna Owls 73-62.
First Team All-Stars
Jenna Dick (Brookswood)
Izzy Forsyth (Semiahmoo)
Jaeli Ibbetson (Kelowna)
Tavia Rowell (Walnut Grove)
Jessica Wisotzki (Walnut Grove)
Second Team All-Stars
Kennedy Dickie (Kelowna)
Faith Dut (Semiahmoo)
Sammy Shields (Riverside)
Tara Wallack (Semiahmoo)
Sophia Wisotzki (Walnut Grove)
Honourable Mention All-Stars
Janessa Knapp (Brookswood)
Marin Lenz (Abbotsford)
Jessica Parker (Riverside)
Tana Pankratz (Yale)
Fania Taylor (Walnut Grove)
And the Riverside Rapids won the School Spirit Award while the Lord Byng Grey Ghosts were the Most Sportsmanlike Team.
South Kamloops Titans won the championship final of the B.C. Secondary School Girls AA Basketball Championships on Saturday afternoon at Langley Events Centre in front of close to 1,100 fans. Their opponent was Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies, the same squad South Kamloops defeated in the prior year’s championship final.
“I think (winning last year) took a little pressure off of us, we were in a no-lose situation,” he explained. “Great to get to the final and of course we want to win it but were in a position where if we played hard, did well and lost it, we could live with that.”
In the third-place game, the Langley Christian Lightning topped the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints 63-42.
First Team All-Stars:
Julia Tuchscherer (G.W. Graham)
Hailey Van Roekel (Langley Christian)
Kelsey Falk (Vernon)
Makenna Gardner (Langley Christian)
Deanna Tuchscherer (G.W. Graham)
Second Team All-Stars:
Chelsea Bradshaw (Seycove)
Jessica Clarke (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Surprise Munie (Britannia)
Olivia Morgan-Cherchas (South Kamloops)
Olivia Thorpe (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Honourable Mentions All-Stars:
Gemma Cutler (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Kendra McDonald (South Kamloops)
Aliza Dueck (G.W. Graham)
Gigi Gaspar (St. Thomas More Collegiate)
Ava Krepp (Langley Christian)
The Westsyde Whundas won the Most Sportsmanlike Team Award and the G.W. Graham Grizzlies won the School Spirit Award.