No coach or team ever likes to lose. But perhaps losing in the Fraser Valley finals can be a blessing in disguise for the Walnut Grove Gators junior girls basketball team.
The Gators fell 56-54 on Saturday in the championship game to the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers. It was the third meeting between the two squads but the first time Walnut Grove was on the wrong end of the score.
The final three days of the championships were held at Maple Ridge Secondary.
“I think it shows that we have some stuff to do before the B.C.’s,” said Walnut Grove coach Darren Rowell.
“It gives us some focus on things we need to work on.”
Twice in the game, the Gators were up five points, but by the second half, they trailed the Panthers by seven points. Walnut Grove would tie things up with about two minutes to go but the Gators gave up an easy lay-up for what turned out to be the winning points.
Part of the problem in the game was foul troubles which forced the Gators to alter their usual game strategy.
But second place in the Fraser Valley is still a significant accomplishment.
Rowell helped coached part of the team last year as Grade 8s as they went undefeated and won the provincial title. What Rowell didn’t know was what he had in the returning junior players.
“We feel great where we are as a junior team,” Rowell said.
The Gators were the top seed at Fraser Valleys and they beat Charles Best 68-15 and W.J. Mouat 62-21 in the first two rounds.
In the quarter-finals, Walnut Grove beat Sardis 75-47 and then beat Brookswood 63-44 in the semifinals before losing to No. 2 Lord Tweedsmuir.
The loss was just the Gators’ third in 38 games.
Tavia Rowell and Alex Tadic both earned all-stars, as did Brookswood’s Jenna Dick.
The ’Cats entered Fraser Valleys fourth and exited with the same ranking.
“The team has come a long way this season and finishing fourth in the Fraser Valleys speaks to the hard work and dedication that the team has put in throughout the entire year to improve,” said coach Brian Smith.
Brookswood beat Elgin Park 52-15 in the opening round and then eliminated Langley Christian in the round of 16 50-32. They defeated Maple Ridge 40-24 in the quarter-finals.
Both Walnut Grove and Brookswood will play at the B.C. junior girls provincial basketball championships March 2-5 at the Langley Events Centre.
Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Brookswood Bobcats’ Karsen Look goes up for the shot in traffic during her team’s 52-15 win over Elgin Park in the opening round of the Fraser Valley junior girls basketball championships last week. The ’Cats entered and exited the tournament seeded fourth.
Four other Langley teams were also competing at the Fraser Valleys.
No. 13Langley Christian beat Fraser Heights 58-35 before losing to Brookswood while No. 21 Credo Christian upset No. 12 Earl Marriott 35-33 before losing in round two to Maple Ridge 31-19.
No. 24 Langley Fundamental lost 62-12 to No. 9 Sardis while No. 28 Mountain lost 54-9 to No. 5 Maple Ridge.