Elphi, Pender off to provincials

Ian Jacques/Editor / Staff writer
February 28, 2014 01:00 AM

The Pender Harbour senior girls basketball team is off to the provincial single A high school provincial championships in Lumby next week. Pictured back row left to right: Jade Storoschuk, Dani Pazur, Nadine Jay-Reid, Emily Silvey, Solveig van Wersch, front row left to right; Maribeth Haines, Crystal Cook, Autumn La France, Kim Fielding, holding the banner Ailsa Antilla and Mackenzie Stewart and coaches are Earl Antilla and Hazel Jay-Reid.

The Elphinstone senior boys and Pender Harbour senior girls are both off to respective provincial championships next week in high school basketball.

The Sakinaw senior girls head to Lumby for the single A provincials March 5 to 8.

Pender lost the Lower Mainland championship to Mulgrave 60-32 last Friday, but had already qualified for the provincial tournament.

Nadine Jay-Reid had 11 points, while Dani Pazur added 10.

"They were a very good team with a deep bench and good shooters," said head coach Earl Antilla. "It was a good game for the girls to see what the top teams at provincials will be like and what we need to work on. I'm really happy about our second place finish for our school, and we are looking forward to the provincials."

Pender Harbour Secondary School principal Paul Bishop said the whole school is behind the team.

"It is very exciting. It's great to know we have students from Grade 8 to Grade 12 who can form such a dynamic team," Bishop said. "They represent all aspects of the school, which is pretty unique. We have 97 students at our school, so for a smaller school like ours to have reached this point is fantastic. It goes back to the days when this school was a sports powerhouse.

"Everyone has worked really hard. There is lots of travel involved, continuing with their studies, etc., so the commitment is huge. Everyone is pulling for them to do well."

Bishop said the school PAC and students themselves continue to actively fundraise for the trip. Anyone wishing to help out is asked to contact the school.

Elphi completed an undefeated run, capturing the North Shore title with an impressive 71-54 win over St. Thomas Aquinas last Wednesday night.

The Cougars led from start to finish, opening up an early 15-point lead, and never looked back.

"It was a complete and convincing win," said head coach Mike Sopow. "The guys came out and played hard. Everything worked at both ends of the floor. STA lost their composure a bit and took some bad fouls, but we created that with our strong play."

The Cougars are on a good roll right now, winning the league title and playoff title and securing one of two seeds for the double A provincials, which take place March 4 to 8 at the Langley Events Centre.

Elphi is currently ranked seventh overall in The Province newspaper's double A rankings and has been named the fifth seed for the tournament.

The Cougars will open play against Southridge from the Fraser Valley on Wednesday night, March 5.

Sopow admits he knows little about the team.

"I've sent out some emails to other coaches looking for some intel," he said. "As coaches, that can hurt a bit in terms of preparation, but player wise, I think it can be a good thing. It means our guys don't try to underestimate the other team, and it forces us to just go out and play our game."

Sopow said he likes the way the team is playing and is confident the Cougars can make a run in the tournament.

"Our first two games in the draw are very winnable games," he said. "Right now everything is clicking. The key for us is to have a good week of practice, stay rested and keep this momentum going. The school is pumped, the community is pumped, and our guys are looking forward to the opportunity."

TJ Turrene was named MVP of the playoffs, Nate Haglund and Nolan Lewarne were named to the North Shore League first all-star team, while Axel Loitz was named player of the game in the North Shore final.

TJ was also the recipient of the Quinn Keast scholarship, awarded to honour the popular North Shore athlete who was killed in a grad accident in 2006. The scholarship is $500 and can be used towards post-secondary education.

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