Sports

Panthers, Eagles climb high school basketball rankings

Luke Tompkins (right) and the Abby Senior Panthers are No. 1 in the B.C. AAA rankings. - Dan Kinvig
Luke Tompkins (right) and the Abby Senior Panthers are No. 1 in the B.C. AAA rankings.
— image credit: Dan Kinvig

The Abbotsford Senior Panthers boys and the MEI Eagles girls made notable upward moves in the new provincial high school basketball rankings, released Wednesday.

The Panthers ascended to the No. 1 spot in the AAA boys tier, while the Eagles’ terrific performance at the Top 10 Shootout tournament in Coquitlam last week saw them leap from No. 8 to No. 3 in the AAA girls poll.

Abby Senior coach Prentice Lenz noted that with B.C. high school boys basketball expanding from three tiers to four this season, the rankings have been unusually volatile as teams jockey for position in their new-look leagues.

Lenz also emphasized it’s important for his team to keep the No. 1 ranking in perspective.

“It’s kind of fun to be ranked at the top,” he acknowledged. “But we’ll continue talk to the boys about taking it for what it’s worth.

“In the end, what will matter is the next eight weeks of play and if we’ll come prepared to work. That’s what susses out who’s No. 1 and who isn’t.”

The Panthers moved up to the top spot from No. 2 after several strong showings against AAAA opponents at their home Snowball Classic tourney last week. They dropped a 75-74 decision to the W.J. Mouat Hawks – leading late before the Hawks hit a game-winning three-pointer – and beat MEI 88-83.

The Eagles girls made a surprising run to the finals of the Top 10 Shootout, highlighted by a stunning 71-38 blowout win over former No. 2-ranked Oak Bay of Victoria and a 72-60 comeback victory over No. 6 Riverside of Port Coquitlam. They dropped a 92-59 decision to No. 1 Brookswood in the title game, and Taylor Claggett and Tessa Ratzlaff were tourney all-stars.

“Everything clicked on Friday (vs. Oak Bay),” MEI coach Rick Thiessen said. “It was like we could do nothing wrong and they could do nothing right. We kept our momentum, and they couldn’t recover.

“All the classic coaching cliches – people stepping up, believing in each other – applies to this group. It’s breeding a sense of optimism that we can play with anyone.”

Other senior basketball teams from Abbotsford mentioned in the rankings include the W.J. Mouat Hawks girls (No. 6 in AAA), the Rick Hansen Hurricanes girls (No. 7 in AA), the Yale Lions boys (No. 9 in AAAA), the Mouat boys (AAAA honourable mention), and the MEI boys (AAAA honourable mention). The Single A girls rankings were not released this week.

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