Gators senior girls earn points for sportmanship

Youthful Walnut Grove ream falls short of provincial goal, but lots of positives for next season

The Walnut Grove Gators came up short in their quest to qualify for the Triple-A B.C. provincial basketball championships, but did pick up some hardware.

The Gators senior girls basketball team was recognized as the most sportsmanlike team of the 16-team tournament, which was won by Holy Cross over Brookswood in a thrilling final on Feb. 22 at the Langley Events Centre.

The Gators —  predominantly made up of Grade 11 players — was seeded sixth for the tournament, but an opening round 55-34 loss to No. 11 Maple Ridge put them on the wrong side of the draw and they could not recover.

Walnut Grove did bounce back to win 76-37 over Chilliwack in their next game, but lost 82-66 to MEI in the double knockout format.

The Gators led for much of the first half, but MEI hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to lead 43-42 at the break. Walnut Grove did regain the lead early in the third quarter, but MEI eventually pulled away.

Dallas Tilley led the way in her final game in a Walnut Grove uniform with 28 points.

MEI wound up fifth in the Fraser Valley while Maple Ridge was seventh.

“I was incredibly proud of the way they came together as a team,” said coach Scott Smithson.

“Despite the loss, we shared such a positive feeling of accomplishment.

“(And) being recognized with the most sportsmanlike award was well deserved.  It was icing on the cake to a very strong season.”

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