By: Andy Prest, North Shore News
Sage Stobbart soars to the hoop for the Seycove Seyhawks senior girls team. Stobbart was named tournament MVP and top defensive player as the Seyhawks won the provincial AA championship Saturday at Langley Events Centre, the first B.C. title in team history. Photo by: Paul McGrath, North Shore News
It’s tough to pinpoint when the Seycove Seyhawks girls basketball team started their championship flight.
Some cite the heartbreaking loss in last year’s final as the moment that the Seyhawks set their sights squarely on this year’s tournament and resolved to get back to the final and win it. Head coach Darcy Grant can look back five years ago to the moment this cohort entered Grade 8 with more than a dozen basketball fanatics ready to take the North Shore by storm. Grant and fellow Seycove coach Geoff Russell, an assistant on this year’s squad along with Brittany Parker, revamped the Seycove program to focus on the talented youngsters.
The path can be traced back even further, however, to a group of elementary-aged girls in the Seymour/Deep Cove area who fell in love with the game and benefited from great local resources such as the Seymour Basketball League, a branch of Steve Nash Youth Basketball that is run by a number of dedicated community volunteers.
No matter what starting point you pick, the end is clear: a 69-54 win over the Vernon Panthers in the senior girls AA provincial final at Langley Events Centre Saturday to claim the first ever B.C. title in team history.
“They were so focused, they were so dialed in to what they wanted to achieve,” said Grant. “Once we got to tipoff we took a lead and never relinquished it.”
Athletic centre Sage Stobbart, who has trained in the national junior program and is committed to play for NCAA Div. 1 school UC Davis next year, was a dominant force in the biggest moments of the tournament. Stobbart collected 25 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in a come-from-behind win against South Kamloops in the semifinals before taking over the final with 26 points and 14 rebounds on her way to earning tournament MVP and top defensive player honours.
“I think she saved her best game for last,” said Grant. “Offensively for the entire tournament she was a force. She contributed in every way. I think she really showed in the final how good of a basketball player she is and how great of a leader she is. … She played great defence and had a ton of blocks. She was very deserving of both awards.”
Point guard Kayla Krug also starred for Seycove, earning first-team all-star status.
“She shot the ball well, she made great decisions,” said Grant. “She was one of the best players on the court.”
Sharpshooter Lindsey Bott, who hit two huge threes late in the semifinal comeback, earned second-team all-star status, with fellow grade 12s Stephanie Laube, Ashley Bradshaw and Naomi Bradshaw all stepping up to provide senior leadership. For those players the win took the sting out of last year’s loss in the AA final.
“Losing a year ago, it left us with a little unfinished business,” said Grant. “I think the girls knew that, the girls were aware of that the entire time and they really had one goal left in their high school basketball careers.”
A year’s worth of pressure was released as the minutes ticked down on Saturday’s convincing victory.
“We finally felt like we could exhale, we could just breath,” said Grant. “A goal that we had set a year ago, pretty much to the day, was realized. The girls were excited but it was definitely bittersweet. Even though we had just won provincials for the first time in school history, there was also that realization that for seven of our Grade 12s this was the last time they were going to play together. And many of them have played together since they were in elementary school.”
Grant got to spend the past five years with the team, making this moment all the more poignant.
“I don’t think we ever thought as far as winning a provincial championship, but I think in the back of our minds we knew that if we kind of trusted the process and were able to commit our resources and commit time and coaching to these girls, the possibility wasn’t out of reach,” he said. “It’s definitely a lot of mixed emotions. The basketball is the easy part and the basketball is a ton of fun, but it’s been nowhere near as fun as getting to know the girls and spending almost every day with the girls.”
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Windsor secondary also took part in the AA championships, posting a 2-2 record to finish in seventh place. Windsor’s Maddie Legault was named a tournament honourable mention all-star. At the AAA level the Argyle Pipers won their first game but dropped their next three to finish in eighth place, while the Carson Graham Eagles lost their opener and finished with a 2-2 record to land in 10th place. Argyle’s Sierra Schefer was named an honourable mention all-star.
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