MVP Fania Taylor scores two of her 19 points. Greg Laychak Black Press

VIDEO: Gator junior girls golden at provincials

Walnut Grove junior girls beat Surrey’s Fraser Heights Firehawks in thrilling junior girls B.C. final

The orange juice tasted sour but the championship victory was sweet.

For nearly the past two months, members of the Walnut Grove Gators junior girls basketball team have lugged around a carton of orange juice they purchased while at a tournament in Cowichan.

The Gators won that tournament and players and coaches have all said that from that point on, something changed about them. The team won that tournament — which was a provincial qualifier — and decided they would hold off on cracking the OJ until after provincials.

And on Saturday afternoon, the Gators drank the juice in celebration of winning the junior girls basketball provincial invitational tournament at the Langley Events Centre.

Walnut Grove defeated the Fraser Heights Firehawks 61-54.

“It tasted kind of sour but it was pretty good,” said a smiling Fania Taylor, who was not only named player of the game, but also the most valuable player of the championships.

The latter award caught her by surprise, especially considering she is just in Grade 8.

But the young point guard was full value for both awards, scoring a team-high 19 points — including seven in the fourth quarter — and being a force both on the boards, and on defence with a couple of blocked shots.

The gold-medal game pitted the top-seed Gators against the upstart Firehawks, as the Surrey school went on a Cinderella run at provincials, knocking off a trio of higher seeds to advance to the final.

And for the first three quarters, it was a back-and-forth affair with the score tied at 15 after one quarter and 27 at the half. Walnut Grove took a slim 42-41 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Firehawks went ahead 46-45 early in the fourth after connecting on their sixth three-pointer, but Walnut Grove went on a 12-0 run and never looked back.

“Basketball is a game of runs and they got the run and we just didn’t answer it,” said Fraser Heights coach Wayne Best.

The Firehawks entered provincials as the No. 15 seed but went on a Cinderella run, knocking off three higher seeds to make the final.

Best said he was not surprised his team was able to make the championship final as they have battled injuries all season and are finally got everyone back together for this tournament.

Despite the loss, Best said he could tell by the exhaustion on his players’ faces that they had left it all on the court.

“That’s all you can ask, if you give all your effort and come up behind you know that you left everything out on the court,” he said. “We will live to do it another day.”

Neelam Rai led the Firehawks with 23 points while Teah Best had 18. Both earned first team all-star honours.

Walnut Grove’s Holly Harrison was a first team all-star while Anneke Cairnie was a second team selection.

Cairnie had 17 points in the final, while Harrison had 8 points.

Gators coach Grant Inkster said the team was able to bond that weekend in Cowichan and hasn’t looked back since.

“They got hot in Cowichan on the island and they haven’t cooled off since,” he said of his Gators team which ended the season with 16 or 17 consecutive victories.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Walnut Grove’s Anneke Cairnie. Greg Laychak Black Press

Fraser Heights’ Neelam Rai. . Greg Laychak Black Press

The Walnut Grove bench cheers their team on. . Greg Laychak Black Press

Gators’ Holly Harrison goes up for the bucket. Greg Laychak Black Press

MVP Fania Taylor scores two of her 19 points. Greg Laychak Black Press

Fraser Heights’ Neelam Rai battles with Walnut Grove’s Holly Harrison and Anneka Cairnie. Greg Laychak Black Press

Coach Grant Inkster gives instruction. Greg Laychak Black Press

Just Posted

Top 10 Langley City attractions listed

Discover Langley City unveils first City-centric promotional pamphlet

Langley man wins dismissal of charge for failing to remain at accident scene

Driver said he didn’t realize he’d hit 62-year-old man

Meeting at Langley Seniors Centre about embracing technology

Langley Seniors Community Action Table welcomes speaker March 21

Fraser Valley real estate predicted to slow down in 2018

B.C. Real Estate Association forecasts a cooling market

Vancouver Giants honour their own

Team Awards handed out prior to Friday’s game versus Kelowna

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Federal government seeks public feedback on pedestrian safety

What safety measures do you think need to improved for pedestrians and cyclists?

Experts urging caution as rabbits die by the hundreds in B.C. city

Province of B.C. confirms more positive tests for rabbit haemorrhagic disease

Canucks snap scoreless streak but fall short in 5-3 loss to Sharks

Swiss forward Timo Meier nets two, including the game-winner, to lead San Jose

4 facts to ring in St. Patrick’s Day

What do you really know about the Irish celebration?

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Canadian research vessel to explore 19th Century shipwrecks

Commissioned this week in Victoria, the RV David Thompson is Parks Canada’s newest vessel

UPDATED: ‘New wave’ of anti-pipeline protests return to Trans Mountain facility

About 100 demonstrators with Protect the Inlet marched to the Burnaby terminal Saturday

Most Read