The Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament tips off this week. Players to watch include (from left) Yale's Patrick Vandervelden

The Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament tips off this week. Players to watch include (from left) Yale's Patrick Vandervelden

Hoop dreamers: Nine players to watch at Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament

The Abby Police City Basketball Tournament tips off this week. We’ve highlighted players to watch from each of the nine secondary schools.

The Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament, a city-wide hoops extravaganza, tips off this week. To celebrate, we’ve highlighted players to watch from each of the nine secondary schools represented.

Patrick Vandervelden, Yale Lions

The slam dunk is the quintessential basketball highlight, but a really great shot-block can be just as sweet.

Patrick Vandervelden of the Yale Lions had such a play two weeks ago during his team’s home tourney. Facing the Bateman T-Wolves, Vandervelden charged out at a three-point shooter, unfurled his 6’9” frame and hammered the ball off the wall.

“The crowd just erupted,” he recalled with a grin. “It changed the game’s momentum for us.”

Vandervelden, who played for the B.C. U17 team last summer, is best known for shot-blocking (he had 11 in one game vs. Mouat last season), but Lions coach Al Friesen says the development of his all-around game is “fun to watch.”

Putting on weight might be Vandervelden’s biggest challenge – the lanky centre tips the scales at 160 pounds, and joked that he must burn too many calories chewing his food.

Tessa Ratzlaff, MEI Eagles

As a standout in both basketball and volleyball, Tessa Ratzlaff had options that most high school athletes can only dream of.

But variety can also tend to complicate things, and the MEI senior found it difficult to whittle things down to one post-secondary destination.

She recently knocked that off her to-do list, though, signing with the Trinity Western women’s basketball program. She’ll join the Spartans in the fall of 2014.

In the meantime, Ratzlaff has a promising senior season to attend to. Her Eagles are ranked No. 7 in AAA, led by the dynamic post duo of Ratzlaff and Taylor Claggett.

“We work well together,” Ratzlaff said. “If teams are doubling one of us, the other will be open.”

Jerome Carretas, Bateman Timberwolves

Bateman senior boys coach Virinder Braich calls Jerome Carretas his most versatile player, and that versatility shone through during the photo shoot for this article.

Asked whether he knew how to spin the ball on his finger, Carretas asked, “Which finger?” and proceeded to rotate the ball on all five digits with the greatest of ease.

The T-Wolves are a smallish team, even more so due to injuries they’re enduring early in the season. The six-foot Carretas, a talented guard, has proven to be their Swiss Army knife – he has the ability to play any of the five positions on the floor as the need arises.

“It’s really physical down there (in the paint), but I like it and I’m used to it,” he said.

Amara Hundal, Abby Traditional Titans

Abby Traditional’s Grade 11 girls basketball players are an awfully special group.

Back in 2011, during their Grade 8 year, they won the Fraser Valley championship and finished third at provincials – tremendous accomplishments for a smaller school that wasn’t previously well-known for athletics.

They’ve had a couple athletes transfer out since then, but the remaining core has gelled into a speedy, fast-breaking squad. Leading the way is shooting guard Amara Hundal.

“I’ve been playing with most of the girls since Grade 6,” she said, reflecting on her team’s bond. “We’re just really great friends, and basketball brings us closer.”

Tristan Etienne, W.J. Mouat Hawks

Given how brightly the spotlight figures to shine on him during his senior season, Tristan Etienne might consider wearing sunscreen 24/7.

The prodigious 6’10” centre – arguably the best big-man prospect from B.C. since current NBA players Rob Sacre (L.A. Lakers) and Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics) – recently landed a full-ride scholarship from the University of Washington Huskies, an NCAA Div. 1 program.

His Hawks began the season ranked No. 3 in the new AAAA tier, and they got off to a great start, knocking off the No. 1 Tamanawis Wildcats of Surrey 75-67 in exhibition action.

“It’s still early, so we can’t make too much of it, but it’s a confidence-booster,” said Etienne, who notched 31 points and 14 rebounds vs. Tamanawis.

Moriah Konynenbelt, Abby Christian Knights

When the Abby Christian Knights walk into a gym, people can’t help but stare.

It’s not every day that you see an AA girls program with three players in excess of six feet tall, but that’s precisely the luxury the Knights enjoy with Moriah Konynenbelt, Amanda de Waal and Rebekah Van Huizen.

“During warm-up, other teams will just watch,” Konynenbelt said with a chuckle, reflecting on the intimidating shadow her team casts. “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh hi, we’re nice, I swear.’”

Konynenbelt, at 6’2”, is the Knights’ leader, and she’s been working hard at adding an outside shot to her terrific post game.

Travis Van Vliet, St. John Brebeuf Bears

St. John Brebeuf senior boys coach Len De Julius frequently reminds his players that improvement is determined by how hard you work when nobody’s watching.

Travis Van Vliet, the Bears’ 6’5” senior centre, took that message to heart and enters this season with a much more versatile game than he had as a Grade 11.

“The fundamentals I work on mostly are the inside post moves,” he explained. “But more recently, I’ve been trying to improve my outside game – ball handling and outside shots, three-pointers . . . so that I’m not one-dimensional.”

Van Vliet will need to draw on his full skill set this season as the Bears, a traditional Single A school, move up to AA for the first time.

Revine Gill, Rick Hansen Hurricanes

Digging in on defence isn’t necessarily as glamorous as lighting it up offensively, but Revine Gill and the Hansen Hurricanes senior girls relish that type of blue-collar work.

“Our defence is absolutely crazy this year,” Gill enthused. “That’s what we’re pretty much known for. We’ve got some quick bodies.”

All five Hurricanes’ starters, including shooting guard Gill, are in Grade 11, and they’ve got big dreams over the next two seasons in the AA league.

“We’ve got very high hopes for this group,” co-coach Bo Sidhu said. “Our goal this year is to qualify for provincials, and next year we want to make some noise.”

Sirban Gill, Abby Senior Panthers

Sirban Gill has fashioned a reputation as a deadly three-point shooter, but he’s hoping to gain notoriety for his all-around game this season.

With an eye on becoming more of a factor driving to the hoop and at the defensive end, the Panthers senior forward has put in a great deal of work in the weight room, and revamped his diet. He’s exchanged his beloved Big Macs for salads, and it’s paid dividends.

“Fast food, chips, junk food, candy, I got rid of all that stuff,” he said with a grin. “I lost 10 pounds, so I’ve gotten way faster. I’ve been working out and shooting almost every single day.”

Gill’s squad opened the season ranked No. 3 in the province in AAA.


• The Abbotsford Police City Basketball Tournament runs Dec. 11-14 at seven different schools around the city.

• From Wednesday through Friday, games will run at the following gyms:

Abbotsford Senior – senior boys and girls

Bateman – Grade 9 boys

Hansen – junior boys

Mouat – junior girls

Abby Christian – Grade 8 boys

MEI – Grade 8 girls

• The finals run all day Saturday at the Columbia Bible College gym.

Gr. 9 boys – 9:30 a.m.

Gr. 8 girls – 11 a.m.

Gr. 8 boys – 12:30 p.m.

Jr. girls – 2:15 p.m.

Jr. boys – 3:45 p.m.

Sr. girls – 5:30 p.m.

Sr. boys – 7:30 p.m.

• For full schedules, visit

• The Abbotsford News will have post-game updates at during Saturday’s finals.

Just Posted

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat greets fans outside of the Abbotsford Centre prior to the Canucks exhibition game against the Ottawa Senators in 2019. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
More jobs posted for Abbotsford AHL team

Five new opportunities accepting applicants, Comets forward Lukas Jasek signs in Finland

Singer Ben Cottrill performs during the 2019 Arty Awards at The Reach Gallery Museum, the last time the event was held in person. Cottrill received the award in the performing arts category. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Nominations now open for 2021 Arty Awards

Annual event hosted by Abbotsford Arts Council, with ceremony Sept. 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read