The Brookswood Bobcats found themselves in uncharted territory.
Coming off a seventh-place finish over the weekend at the Fraser Valley championships, the senior girls basketball team faced a wild-card qualifying game in hopes of securing a spot at the B.C. senior girls AAA provincial championships.
The ’Cats have played in the past eight provincial championship tournaments — and have won three gold, a silver and a bronze in the past five championships — and have been a part of 17 of the past 18 tournaments.
So chances are, when the tournament happens, Brookswood is a participant.
“I was saying to the girls, I can’t ever remember being in a wild-card (game),” said Brookswood coach Chris Veale, who has long been involved in the ’Cats program either as a head or assistant coach.
“The motto we have always had at provincials is ‘survive and advance,’” Veale said.
So being in the unfamiliar position of facing a win-or-go-home wild-card game just to qualify for provincials, was just an extension of that philosophy.
“We looked at the game as really our first game of provincials,” he said. “It was literally survive and advance or go home and that is the approach we had.”
The ’Cats faced the Handsworth Royals in the qualifier game at Riverside Secondary on Feb. 20.
The Royals took a five-point lead into halftime as Brookswood’s vaunted offence — they typically average 85 points per game — was struggling.
“I don’t know if the girls were nervous or we were a little off, but in the second half, we got (things) going,” Veale said. “They knew what was at stake.
The Bobcats allowed just 17 points in the second half and their offence found its game, pulling away with a 71-37 victory.
Brookswood found themselves in this position after suffering a 68-66 loss to Yale on day four of the Fraser Valleys.
The ’Cats were seeded fifth for the Fraser Valley tournament and after opening with a 91-65 win over No. 12 Panorama Ridge, they lost 68-54 to No. 4 Semiahmoo in the quarter-finals.
Facing a do-or-die game in round, three, Brookswood survived with a 79-71 win over the Bateman Timberwolves. The No. 8 Yale Lions then edged the ’Cats 68-66. Brookswood finished seventh after a 64-56 win over No. 3 Heritage Woods.
Brookswood is seeded 13th for the provincial championships, which run Feb. 28 to March 3 at the Langley Events Centre. They open against No. 4 Oak Bay.
What makes this year’s tournament exciting is the fact there are multiple teams who have a shot at winning gold.
“I think if we play well, we have a shot,” Veale said.