The spectre of 1984 still hangs over the Abbotsford Panthers senior girls basketball team, but after an incredible showing in the AAA provincial tournament – the future seems bright.
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 12’s 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 Tweedmuir 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 is 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 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.
In other news, the Bateman Timberwolves junior girls team took home 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 St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday. Bateman’s Jayden Gill earned best defensive player at the tournament.
Proud of @Bateman_Bball Jr girls for finishing 3rd in BC! Congrats to Jayden Gill for best defensive player of the tournament! @BCHoopScoop pic.twitter.com/PWWxmSttEM
— Dan Village (@dvillage2) March 5, 2017
For more on the tournament, read Wednesday’s print edition of the Abbotsford News.