NORTH Shore basketball teams hit the hardwood at provincial championships held around the province and scored several near-podium performances last weekend.
At the senior girls AAA level the Argyle Pipers went 3-1 at the Langley Events Centre, losing only to the eventual silver medal winner from Brookswood en route to a fifth-place showing. The Pipers, champions of the Lower Mainland playoffs, opened the provincial tournament with a 69-45 win over the Fleetwood Park Dragons Wednesday before falling to Brookswood 71-60 in the quarterfinals.
The Handsworth Royals took a similar path through the tournament, beating the M.E.I. Eagles 63-43 in their opener before falling 56-52 in the quarterfinals against Maple Ridge. Those losses set up a consolation round showdown between the North Shore schools, the sixth meeting between the two teams this season. With a 77-69 win over Handsworth at provincials, Argyle evened the season series at three win apiece - a fitting end for a year-long battle between two of the top teams in the province. Handsworth walked away from the season owning the Telus Basketball Classic title - they won the prestigious invitational tournament in December, beating Argyle in the final - as well as the North Shore championship while Argyle claimed the Lower Mainland title with a win over Handsworth in the final and ended the season in the top-5 at provincials.
The Pipers finished the B.C. championships with a 53-39 win over the Riverside Rapids to claim fifth spot. Handsworth, meanwhile, dropped their final game 61-48 to the Kelowna Owls, ending the tournament with a 1-3 record to finish in 10th place. Argyle's Chelsea Dekleer and Claire Elliott as well as Handsworth's Elisa Homer were all named to the tournament's second all-star team. The South Kamloops Titans won the tournament for the second straight season, led by Emma Wolfram who repeated as the Most Valuable Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
At the senior girls AA level the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints just missed the medals in Kamloops, finishing fourth. The Saints started the tournament with a 76-33 win over Kalamalka and a 53-32 win over St. Michaels to earn a spot in the semifinals.
With a berth in the finals on the line the Saints got a masterful performance from point guard Vanessa Botteselle who scored 24 points with 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals but STA came up just short, losing 54-53 to Vernon secondary. In the bronze medal game the Saints lost a close one again, falling 61-55 to Wellington.
Botteselle was named to the tournament's all-star team and chosen as the tournament's Top Defensive Player. Windsor secondary also made the trip to Kamloops but their dreams of winning a medal ended early with an opening round 48-43 loss to Sahali. The Dukes battled back to win their last three games, including a 53-50 win over Southridge in the ninth-place game.
The boys AA tournament ran at the same time in Kamloops with Collingwood representing the North Shore with a 10th place finish. The Cavaliers won their opener 65-50 over Wellington but stumbled the rest of the way, losing to Kelowna Christian, St. Michaels and Archbishop Carney.
In the boys A tournament Bodwell represented the North Shore, scoring a fifth-place finish. Berkan Basmergen was named to the tournament's second all-star team.
At the girls A tournament Mulgrave went 2-2 in Prince George to finish in sixth place.
Seycove secondary's junior girls squad attended the provincial championships also held in Langley, scoring an 11th place finish. The Seyhawks, the North Shore's lone representative at the tournament and boasting a starting lineup that included no player taller than five-foot-eight, dropped their opener 29-25 to Kelowna before rebounding to score a 46-19 win over the Brookswood juniors. The Seyhawks ended with a 48-40 loss to Mount Baker and a 51-45 loss to South Kamloops.
The one tournament left is the senior boys AAA provincial championships which begin today at the Langley Events Centre. The Handsworth Royals, recently crowned Howe Sound champions, are the North Shore's sole representative and will get their tournament going at 10 a.m. today with a matchup against the W. J. Mouat Hawks. All tournament games will be streamed online at langleyeventscentre.com/aaaboys.