MARCH Madness gripped the North Shore on the weekend as basketball teams at a number of levels took part in provincial championship tournaments around the province.
Close to home, Capilano University hosted the senior girls AAA tournament for the 19th consecutive year but possibly for the last time ever as the event is being moved to the Langley Events Centre for at least the next five years.
The Handsworth Royals and Argyle Pipers represented the North Shore at Capilano's curtain call with the Royals recovering from an early upset to finish eighth and the Pipers following right behind them in ninth. The two teams posted opposite results as the Royals lost their first game but won their next three while the Pipers won their first but lost their final three.
Handsworth, the North Shore league champions and second-place finishers at the Lower Mainland championships, came in seeded fourth but were shocked on opening day in a 67-62 loss to the 13th-ranked Maple Ridge Ramblers. The Ramblers were led by Kolbie Orum, a six-foot-three Grade 11 who played for Team Canada at the FIBA Cadette world championships last summer. Orum scored 34 points on 15-for-20 field goal shooting against the Royals while also grabbing 15 rebounds. Jaime Hills scored 23 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort for the Royals. With their chances of a medal gone, the Royals kept on slugging on the consolation side, picking up a 72-44 win over Terry Fox on Thursday, a 71-44 win over Oak Bay on Friday and a 64-44 win over Gleneagle on Saturday in the eighth/ tenth game. Hills, a Grade 12 guard bound for the University of British Columbia's powerhouse women's team next fall, was named a tournament secondteam all-star after averaging 19.5 points in her four games.
The Ninth-seeded Pipers, meanwhile, started the tournament with a bang, scoring a mini-upset with a 61-50 win over eighth-seeded Oak Bay. Chelsea Dekleer led the Pipers with 16 points while Robyn Aulin-Haynes grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. In the quarterfinals on Thursday the Pipers couldn't keep the magic going, losing 66-45 to the No. 1-ranked Riverside Rapids. On Friday Argyle became the second North Shore team rocked by the Ramblers as Maple Ridge - pushed by Orum's amazing 25-point, 25-rebound performance - scored another upset, 66-55 over the Pipers. On the tournament's final day the Pipers took on Yale in the sixth/ninth game but came up short, losing 80-68.
Riverside went on to win bronze while the fifth-ranked squad from South Kamloops secondary rolled all the way to a championship win, defeating third-ranked York House 6561 in the final.
At the AA tournament held in Kamloops the Windsor Dukes placed seventh on the boys side, posting a 2-2 overall record while losing to King George in the fifth/seventh game. The Dukes were led by Grade 12 provincial team member David Manshrek who was named to the tournament's second all-star team. On the girls side of the draw both the Seycove Seyhawks and St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints hit the floor in Kamloops. The Seyhawks won on Day 1 before falling to Vernon in quarterfinal action on Day 2. Seycove rebounded to win their final two games, their 31 record clinched with a tough 58-54 win over Archbishop Carney in the fifth/sixth game. Seycove's Jenna Krug was named a tournament allstar. Meanwhile STA dropped their first two games of the tournament but fought back to win their last two, including a 79-72 overtime victory over Abbotsford on Day 3 and a 6660 win over Nechako Valley in the 13th/14th game.
STA actually sent two girls teams to provincial tournaments with their junior squad also representing the North Shore after winning the Lower Mainland junior championship. The juniors finished fourth at the provincial tournament, losing 51-39 to MEI in the bronze medal game. Vanessa Botteselle earned a secondteam all-star nod for the Saints.
At the senior A level Mulgrave School represented the North Shore in girls action. Mulgrave went 2-2 at the Prince George-hosted tournament, winning their first and last games to finish sixth.
On the boys side Bodwell represented the North Shore in senior A play, winning three out of four games to finish in fifth place, clinching the spot with a 43-32 win over Pemberton in the fifth/sixth game. Berkan Basmergen earned a secondteam all-star nod.
The AAA boys championships run March 1317 at the Langley Events Centre with Carson Graham the lone North Shore representative. The Eagles begin their quest March 14 with a 4: 45 p.m. game against Surrey's Tamanawis.