The Abby Panthers senior girls’ drought continued after a 67-57 loss to the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday in the AAA provincial final.
But head coach Prentice Lenz said the team’s promise and potential is obvious. The Abby Panthers were one of the youngest teams at the tournament, with only three Grade 12s on their 12-player roster.
Abbotsford also heavily leaned on Grade 11 players Sienna Lenz and Sydney Fetterly, as well as Grade 10 player Kelsey Roufosse and Grade 9 player Marin Lenz.
“I think we just ran out of gas,” Prentice said. “I was happy with our start and the way we played in the first half, but the girls left it out on the floor. They played hard.”
The more experienced Tweedsmuir team, led by tournament most outstanding player Maryn Budiman, battled back after falling behind 22-14 after one. Abbotsford led 32-31 at the half, but Tweedsmuir pulled ahead 56-46 after three.
“Budiman was phenomenal,” Prentice said. “She kept going and was a big difference in the game. But I’m proud of our kids. They did a great job, and they’re disappointed, but I’m glad they’re disappointed because that means they feel something. I was incredibly proud of their efforts this year.”
Even more remarkable was that Abbotsford star Sienna Lenz played the entire tournament with a torn ACL. She will go in for surgery on Wednesday, but the injury didn’t stop her. She was named a first team tournament all-star, and the top defensive player at the event.
Prentice admitted it was difficult balancing what is right for his daughter’s health with her desire to be on the floor and help the team.
“Your stomach is churning and you’re just worrying about every little thing out there,” he said, chuckling.
Sienna had a team-high 16 points in the win, with her sister Marin scoring 15. Budiman led all players with 25.
Abbotsford was also playing without Grade 12 player Tausani Levale, who was participating in the Las Vegas Invitational rugby tournament.
Levale is one of the best rugby players in the country for her age, and Prentice said she would have made a difference out there.
“We missed her, but we knew we wouldn’t have her for this tournament coming in,” he said, noting she didn’t suit up once at the provincials. “She gave us everything she has to get us here. She would have helped, but it is what it is.”
Prentice said Tweedsmuir’s experience and depth helped them earn the win.
“They had a few more bodies than us,” he said. “With their depth they were able to give some of their girls some rest and stay a little fresher. We had five girls that played almost 40 minutes.”
Prentice said many of the girls will be back after the crushing loss, and the team will be better for it.
“It’s a fantastic group of girls, and so much fun to be a part of,” he said.
Abbotsford had a great run at the event, knocking off the three-time defending champion Brookswood Bobcats on Friday, and also notching wins over Prince George and Argyle.
Roufosse was named an honourable mention all-star, with Sienna and Marin Lenz both named first team all-stars.
The Yale Lions placed 11th at the tournament, ending the event with a 70-48 win over R.A. McMath on Saturday. Yale also posted a win over Prince George, and suffered losses to Argyle and Carson Graham.
In other news, the Bateman Timberwolves junior girls team took home provincial bronze after a big 54-53 win over Lord Tweedsmuir on Saturday.
The win was a nice bounce-back win for the Wolves, after falling 49-30 to the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints on Friday.
Bateman’s Jayden Gill earned best defensive player at the tournament. The Timberwolves also won two games on Wednesday and one on Thursday to reach the final four.
The aforementioned Fighting Saints went on to win the junior girls provincial title in Saturday’s final.
Meanwhile, on Vancouver Island, the Abbotsford Traditional Titans finished 13th overall at the Grade 9 boys basketball provincials. The Titans beat Pitt Meadows 50-42 on Saturday to earn the spot.
The team also lost games to Kelowna on Thursday and University Hill on Friday, while picking up a win over Oak Bay on Friday.
Titans player Gurshan Sahota was named a tournament honourable mention all-star, and also placed fourth at the event’s slam dunk competition.
Abbotsford schools also excelled at the Grade 8 girls and boys provincials in Pitt Meadows over the weekend.
The CG Howe Bulldogs boys team earned silver, narrowly falling 58-55 to Burnaby South in Saturday’s final. The Bulldogs won all three of their other games at the event. Howe players Jaydan Bains and Ekjot Mann were both named tournament first team all-stars.
The Abbotsford Middle School Huskies boys team finished fifth at the event, capping off their tournament with a 62-57 win over Vancouver College on Saturday. Huskies player Brandt Lenz was named a second team all-star, with Jesse Davis picking up a third team all-star nod.
The W.A. Fraser Falcons girls team also took home a medal, picking up bronze with a 42-31 win over Lord Tweedsmuir on Saturday. The Falcons’ lone loss at the event was in the tournament semi-final to the eventual champions from Semiahmoo.
Fraser’s Marissa Rode was named a first team tournament all-star, while Emily Howard earned a second team all-star nod.
The St. John Brebeuf Bears girls team finished ninth at the event, defeating Argyle 37-35 to end off the tournament.
The Bears opened with a loss, but then won three straight to finish up strong.