The SAS Jackson Grade 9 girls’ basketball team got a taste of the big leagues at this year’s provincial finals basketball tournament held at Heritage Woods Secondary School in Port Moody.
The team opened play on Thursday, Feb. 27, against MacNeill Secondary from Richmond.
Head coach Kira Limber described the first game as a fast-paced and very physical eye opener for the team.
Along with the pace of play, the gym itself was huge and the stands were full of students and spectators.
MacNeill was a strong outside shooting team, while the Jewels scored from both inside the paint and outside.
There were a number of lead changes throughout the game, which went down to the final minutes. Late in the game, MacNeill went ahead and secured the victory by a 47-45 score.
The Jewels played two more games the following day. The first was against Sardis from Chilliwack. Once again, play was rough, forcing the Jewels to adjust.
Strong rebounding, passing and teamwork on defence lead to the Jewels’ 38-19 victory.
Ryann Decker was named player of the game for her aggressive defending, rebounding and perfect record from the free throw line.
The second game was against Earl Marriott from Surrey. Limber said the team really settled down and executed their game plan of aggressive defending, limiting turnovers and making good decisions on offence.
The final score was 47 to 27. Point guard Ainslie Mueller had a season-high score of 23 points and was named player of the game.
The two victories on Friday meant the Jewels would be playing St. John Brebeuf from Abbotsford in the consolation final on Saturday morning.
Limber said play was rough again and the Jewels needed to deal with a lot of contact.
The Salmon Arm Secondary squad led throughout the game, and at one point stretched their lead to 15 in the final quarter.
The final score was 35-27, as player of the game was awarded to Samantha Hardy who led the team in scoring and rebounding.
The Jewels ended up placing ninth in the tournament.
A highlight from the tournament was the Gala Banquet talent show on Thursday night. The Jewels put together a strong showing of team spirit by creating a dance routine, complete with a finale that had two players lifted into the air by their teammates and a slam dunk to finish.
Limber said the success of the team came from everyone working hard, supporting each other and believing in the process.
She added many of the Jewels have plans for playing in the Synergy Spring Basketball Program and are already looking ahead to next season with the goal of improving their performance at next year’s provincials.