The host Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers captured their first-ever Surrey Fire Fighters’ Goodwill Classic before 200 spectators Saturday evening at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary.
The Panthers topped the Panorama Ridge Thunder 87-73 in the championship game of the all-Surrey senior girls high school basketball tournament, capping a four-game run through the 22-team competition.
“We play as a team, we work well as a unit. That’s our biggest strength,” said Panthers coach Curtis McRae. “At the end of the day, we had some great leadership and a ton of talent.”
In a rematch of last year’s junior girls provincial championship game, won by the Thunder after they erased an eight-point deficit with a huge 34-4 run, Lord Tweedsmuir again took a lead into the second half. Only this time, the Panthers stayed in front, not allowing Panorama Ridge to get closer than 10 points over the final 20 minutes.
“It was kind of a similar game, we were up big at half time, then they chipped away and chipped away,” said McRae. “Unfortunately, they got the best of us that game. Today, we were able to hold the lead.”
Lord Tweedsmuir extended a 15-point halftime lead to as many as 21 points early in the second half, before the Thunder tried to make a comeback.
A 10-point run had the Thunder within 11 with eight minutes remaining, but Panorama Ridge couldn’t cut the difference to single digits the rest of the way.
“It’s almost as if when we got to within 10, we started to relax,” said Thunder head coach John Sowerby. “And that’s what they did. There’s no way we should have gotten into that hole. We just stopped running.”
The Panthers, who have placed in the top three five times previously at the Fire Fighters’ Classic, didn’t change their game plan when the Thunder were cutting into their lead. Instead, they just picked up the pace.
“We just stayed within our system and worked hard, we stuck with what we do well,” said McRae. “We preach it, no ‘hero basketball,’ we look for the best pass, the best play possible. And in turn, it will come back to you when you’re open.”
Leading the way offensively for Lord Tweedsmuir were Maryn Budiman with 20 points, Ali Norris with 17 and Shelvin Grewal with 15. The Thunder got 33 points from Sav Dhaliwal, and another 16 from Arman Sahota.
Budiman won the tournament’s Best Defensive Player award, with teammate Emma Jonas claiming the Most Valuable Player award as well as winning the three-point shooting competition. Norris, Dhaliwal and Panorama’s Zainab Khan were named to the 15-member Surrey Fire Fighters’ Dream Team.
The Fraser Heights Firehawks placed third, defeating the Holy Cross Crusaders 65-60 in a consolation game played by the two losing semifinalists. Emily Pearson led the Firehawks with 20 points, with Madison Bergen adding 14. Juliana Babic was the top scorer for Holy Cross with 24 points. Bergen and Babic were named to the Dream Team.
In the Ladder Division final, Sabrina Hou and Maya-Jade Kooner netted 14 points each to lead the Semiahmoo Totems to a 60-42 win over the Guildford Park Sabres. Angela Shih tallied 13 points for Semiahmoo, while Hellen Odong scored 27 points to lead the Sabres. Odong was the Ladder Division’s Most Valuable Player, and the Sabres were named the tournament’s Most Sportsmanlike Team.
Other members of the Dream Team were Amina Gill of the Enver Creek Cougars, Simi Lehal of the Fleetwood Park Dragons, Chelsie Shokar of the North Surrey Spartans, Georgia Paterson of the Princess Margaret Lions, Pavleen Gill of the Quaan Elizabeth Royals, Kara Lauer of the Semiahmoo Totems, Anuy Randhawa of the Tamanawis Wildcats, Cairo Chapman of the Earl Marriott Mariners, Daughter Achan of the Kwantlen Park Timberwolves, and Elizabeth Hicks of the Clayton Heights Night Riders.
Katya Vanderleek of the Surrey Christian Falcons was the Most Inspirational Player.