The Pemberton Secondary School senior girls basketball team has gotten their season off to a hot start, securing strong results at their first two tournaments of the year.
They kicked off their season with a tournament in Agassiz earlier this month (Dec. 1 and 2). Despite losing their first matchup to a significantly larger school, the girls rallied to win the remaining two games of the weekend to become consolation champs.
It was a performance they repeated this past weekend to secure the same title, this time at their second tournament in as many weeks, held at St. John’s Academy in Vancouver last weekend (Dec. 8 and 9).
“They did great,” said coach Mike Richman. “We lost our first game handedly to arguably one of the top teams — if not the top team — in the province (for) single-A, and then went on to win our other two games. They did a great job battling a really strong team in the first game.”
Achieving good results in these tournaments is crucial for the Red Devils as they strive towards qualifying for this season’s provincial championships, set to take place in March. At the end of the season, 16 teams from across the province will come together to compete for the championship title. Two of those qualifying teams will come from Pemberton’s zone, following zone championships scheduled for 2018.
“Right now we have four tournaments booked. I’m hoping to have more, and a few single games as well,” Richman said.
Without any regular season games currently scheduled, tournaments serve as the girls’ only chance to obtain enough points to qualify. “Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of local competition,” Richman explained.
While Whistler Secondary’s senior girls’ basketball squad falls into a different division, Squamish doesn’t have a team this year.
“We have to travel for all of our games,” he said.
However, it seems like the team, made up of 10 Grade 11 and 12 students, will be up to the challenge. “I’ve been coaching over 10 years, and this is one of the more coachable groups that I’ve had,” Richman said. “We don’t have a ton of size and we don’t have a ton of experience —it’s only our second tournament. Some of the private schools take their teams and put them in club play in the summer, so they play almost all year round. They have a huge amount more experience than us, so we’re often punching above our weight class. They make up for it in heart, they make up for it in defence. They’re a real character team.”
As an example, the sole group Pemberton fell to this weekend “was a super team,” Richman added. “Our girls fought so hard, and there was no slacking in their attitude. Their hustle was awesome, and on more than one occasion during the tournament, I heard a coach say something along the lines of, ‘watch these guys; I love the way Pemberton plays defence.’ They attack on defence and they close the gap we have in experience just with heart and defence and with effort. They’re a super fun group of girls.”