Mark Isfeld Ice junior girls basketball team completed their season with an unprecedented top 10 finish for the school at the Provincial championships in Langley.
The girls played five games, winning three and losing two close games. The Ice started the Feb. 26 to March 1 tournament with the breakfast game at 8:30 a.m. against Island rival Oak Bay, who was given a reprieve and allowed into the tournament after originally being denied due to not registering their team on time earlier in the year.
Isfeld had lost to Oak Bay previously by 20-plus points. At the Langley Events Centre four courts were used as the B.C. junior boys tournament was being held simultaneously.
The Ice-Oak Bay game was played in a converted hockey arena with the end walls a considerable distance from the baskets unlike most high school gyms. Hence, depth perception was quite different and adjustment in shooting long distant shots was required, which hurt a three-point shooting team like the Ice.
Down by 10 in the fourth quarter, Isfeld battled back to get within three points. But alas shots would not drop and Oak Bay prevailed by six.
Isfeld next faced Charles Hays Secondary from basketball hotbed Prince Rupert the next morning on the main centre court. The Ice were too much for the Rupert gals and ran away 42-10 with all players getting on the scoresheet.
Next up were the Nechako Valley team from Vanderhoof who had almost upset the Fraser Valley #1 seed on opening day. However, strong defensive play and good team outside shooting led the Isfeld girls to a comfortable double-digit victory.
Next up were the strong Fraser Valley M.E.I. girls. Isfeld played aggressive defence throughout, leading 14-7 at the quarter, 20-17 at the half, 30-21 after three quarters and maintained the lead in the fourth, upsetting the Fraser Valley girls 39-38. Showcasing their outside shooting, Isfeld hit an incredible seven three-pointers. Sydney Kuhnert knocked down five treys to win Player of the Game award.
Now assured of a top 10 finish, the Ice got a chance to avenge two previous losses to Oak Bay, playing them again for ninth and 10th spot.
Isfeld tightened up the defence, leading 7-2 after the first quarter and 13-9 and 30-23 after subsequent quarters. With three and half minutes to go the Ice had a 36-32 lead but ran out of gas and into the suddenly hot outside shooting from the Oak Bay girls, who hit two treys down the stretch and some key foul shots.
With pride the Isfeld girls left it all on the floor, stuck together throughout and played with courage, heart and sportswomanship, said coach Hugh MacKinnon. Other Players of the Game along with Kuhnert were Aleah Ashlee and Chelsea LaChapele (one of the strongest defensive players in the tournament). At the awards ceremony, Ashley was selected to the second all-star team, a well-deserved honour as she was one of the best two-way players at Provincials.
MacKinnon said thanks goes to the support of the teachers and administration at Mark Isfeld, the parents, athletic director Colin Cunningham and the coaching done for the girls at the younger grades, particularly by Grant Ashlee. “It was a great season with lots of wonderful memories and the girls were a pleasure to coach,” MacKinnon said.
FREE THROWS Two more Valley teams are competing at Provincials this year … the Isfeld AA girls and Highland Raiders AA boys are at the Langley Events Centre this week (March 5-8) for their respective B.C. tourneys …
– Isfeld Ice