Coach Chris Van der Mark and the members of the champion senior girls basketball squad. (Tom Best photo)

Coach Chris Van der Mark and the members of the champion senior girls basketball squad. (Tom Best photo)

Gryphons girls dominate in zone win

It's a bittersweet moment for Smithers basketball team as players graduate and coach moves on.

For many young people finishing high school is a time they can’t wait for, but for sone members of the Smithers Secondary Gryphons senior girls basketball team, that time will have bittersweet memories.

Last weekend, the team played host to the zone finals where they dominated the final game 72-36 over Caledonia Secondary from Terrace. The experience and time spent together of the Gryphons was evident as they controlled every aspect of the game.

Three Gryphons were named to the all-star team for the weekend’s performance. MacKinley Unruh, Olivia Davies and Angela Jennings were named to the tournament all-star squad. In addition, Jennings was the MVP of the tournament.

Coach Chris Van der Mark was lavish in his praise for the team’s members. He felt that one of the highlights of the year was the fact that the team had to deal with so many injuries through the season but was able to successfully overcome the obstacles that they may have created. Three of the girls had major injuries that may have kept them out of games but they were able to contribute to the team’ success in the zone championships.

Van der Mark said that in his years of coaching, the present group was among the best he had worked with. Next season, many of these players are hoping to play at the college or university level.

As for coach Van der Mark, he moves on to a new position superintendent that will take him to Williams Lake. Due to new responsibilities and the move, he is unsure about whether he will be coaching next season.

While nine on the team will be graduating at the end of the academic year, most have not yet decided where they will be going for post-graduate studies or what they will be studying.

The young women who were dealing with injuries this season heaped praise for the work they had done with Van der Mark during their tenure with the team. All agreed that he was the best coach that they had worked with during their time as young athletes.

Tamiya Ness was one of three players who had to deal with injuries that may have sidelined players on other teams. Through rehabilitation work she and others on the team were able to finish the season without being completely off the roster.

The team will take on a very different look next year with the absence of nine members who graduate and an experienced coach who will be moving on. It will be a building year that we can only hope will develop to the same championship level squad that we have seen this year.

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