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  • Writer's pictureGary Ahuja

Eagles, Seahawks soar to TBI titles



Led by Most Valuable Player Camryn Tait, the Seaquam Seahawks defeated the Riverside Rapids 74-68 in the championship final of the Super 16 bracket at the Tsumura Basketball Invitational Girls Tournament on Dec. 16 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag photo


Birds ruled at the 2023 Tsumura Basketball Invitational Girls Tournament.


The 32-team tournament – which was split into a pair of 16-team brackets – saw Abbotsford’s M.E.I. Eagles capture the Select 16 title over Burnaby’s St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights 79-70. And in the Super 16 championship game, Delta’s Seaquam Seahawks were 74-68 winners over Port Coquitlam’s Riverside Rapids.


The four-day tournament came to a close on Saturday at Langley Events Centre. For complete tournament scores from all four days, please visit www.langleyeventscentre.com/tbi 


SELECT 16


M.E.I. 79 St. Thomas More Collegiate 70

In a back-and-forth championship final, the M.E.I. Eagles were finally able to pull away, securing a 79-70 victory in the Select 16 bracket over the St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights.

In the first 30 minutes, the game featured nine lead changes and seven other occasions where the score was tied as the teams continued to flip flop with the Knights ahead one, the Eagles up two and then St. Thomas More Collegiate nursing a four-point lead at the quarter breaks heading into the final period.


But the Eagles would find another gear, closing the game on a 16-4 run to secure the TBI title. M.E.I. did so missing both the starting point guard – Ava Driedger (who was lost in game one of the four-day tournament) and guard Mya Buttar (who went down late in the Friday’s semi-final victory) – requiring the team to call up three players from their junior squad, including one, KyLia Schellenberg, who took over at point guard for the championship game. And even she was lost late in Saturday’s game after taking a hard fall to the ground which left her bloodied. But in the end, M.E.I.’s big 3 of Lola Reimer (23 points), Olivia Sidhu (22) and Ella Tatlock (17) provided enough offence to hold off the Knights.


The key was handing the St. Thomas More Collegiate pressure, which had given teams fits over the first three days.


“I thought we handled their pressure. Watching them yesterday, that was a big part of their comeback,” said M.E.I. coach Rick Thiessen, referencing a 22-0 fourth-quarter run in their comeback semi-final win the day previous. “We just never got rattled. We would get the odd turnover, but it never compounded.”


The Eagles entered the week ranked fourth among 3A schools in the province and while they have five Grade 12s on their roster, Saturday’s leading scorers are in Grade 10 (Tatlock) and 11 (Reimer and Sidhu). Sidhu was named the Most Valuable Player.

The TBI victory helps reinforce what the Eagles’ coaching staff has been trying to teach.


“We are trying to build. Our team from two years ago set the bar very high, so we are trying to teach these girls that we can get back there, but we have to put the work in, and they are. They are buying in,” he said.


In the third-place game, Surrey’s Holy Cross Crusaders edged Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators 58-55.

 

Other Day 4 scores:

Abbotsford Traditional 57 Fleetwood Park 48

Oak Bay 52 R.A. McMath 50

Clayton Heights 57 Heritage Woods 55

Sir Winston Churchill 71 Lord Tweedsmuir 56

Abbotsford Christian 60 Britannia 53

Notre Dame 46 Maple Ridge 41

 

SUPER 16


Seaquam 74 Riverside 68

The Seaquam Seahawks went up against some of the top teams in the province and came away victorious, capping off four days of competition with the TBI Super 16 tournament title.


The young team capped off a great four days by defeating the Riverside Rapids, 74-68. Along the way, the Seahawks – who rely heavily on their core of Grade 10 and 11 players – defeated the 4A top-seed Argyle Pipers in the quarter-final round, the 3A No. 1 seed Brookswood Bobcats in the semi-final game, and then the Rapids -- the two-time TBI and defending provincial champion who entered the TBI as the 4A No. 2 seed.


“It is all about the end goal, but at this stage of the season with us being a little bit of a younger roster, it is all about having that belief. We came in with the mindset that we are treating this week like provincials, and I think we did that,” said Seaquam coach Lucky Toor.


The Seahawks trailed 19-16 after a period and 36-32 at the half before rallying to tie the score at 52 with 10 minutes to play. And Seaquam would secure the tournament title thanks to a 22-16 advantage in the fourth quarter.


Most Valuable Player Camryn Tait scored nine of her game-high 23 points in that final 10-minute stretch, while Sydney Roufosse added 14, Mackenzie Henderson chipped in 11 and Syra Toor and Callie Brost both scored eight points apiece.

Avery Sussex led Riverside with 22 points, Jorga Hart added 13 and Maliyah Mendoza finished with 11.


“It was sloppy. At the end of the day, both teams would like to have a few plays back. But games like this, when things are tight and intense, people are going to make mistakes, it is all about ‘next play mentality,” Toor said.


“We stayed with it and didn’t let mistakes turn into huge runs against us, which has been the problem earlier in the year, so I think we have cleaned that part up, not allowing (our mistakes) to become a big run.”


In the third-place game, it was Langley’s Brookswood Bobcats with the 68-60 victory over the Burnaby Central Wildcats.

 

Other Day 4 scores:

Okanagan Mission 74 South Kamloops 55

Charles Best 60 Langley Christian 57

Argyle 69 St. Michaels University School 52

South Delta 72 Reynolds 63

G.W. Graham 66 Kelowna 56

Yale 80 Mulgrave 48

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