B.C. high school basketball has one of its greatest championships ever

Brookswood Bobcats guard Jordyn Nohr, who’s only in Grade 9, says of her behind-the-back pass: “I’ve done it before and it’s one of my favourites. It makes the stands go crazy.”

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Grade 9 guard Jordyn Nohr pulled off a behind-the-back pass on a 2-on-1 in overtime in the Brookswood Bobcats’ win Saturday and it still had plenty of competition for signature moment of girls basketball provincial championship day at the Langley Events Centre.

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Riverside Rapids guard Avery Sussex won most valuable player honours in Quad A after her No. 1 seeded and reigning champion side fell 79-73 to the No. 3 Seaquam Seahawks and then went immediately to Seaquam forward Camryn Tait to tell her she deserved the honour.

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The Single A tournament left high school gyms and joined the three other tiers at the LEC this week and had an engaging finale to open things Saturday, with the No. 2 Unity Christian Flames outlasting the No. 1 Pacific Christian Pacers 83-75.

All four title matchups on the day went down to the wire. Sandwiched between the Unity Christian and Seaquam victories was a 75-69 triumph for the No. 3 Langley Christian Lighting over the No. 1 seeded and reigning champion Mulgrave Titans at Double A and the aforementioned 69-63 victory in an extra frame for No. 1 Brookswood over the No. 2 St. Michaels University School Blue Jags at Triple A.

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The atmosphere remained hyped up throughout the day. The crowd maxed out at just over 2,000 in the LEC’s Centre Court — organizers were debating whether it was a girls tournament record — and it was loud enough that multiple times it caused your Apple Watch to warn about decibel readings.

Among the instances when the fans got particularly raucous was when Nohr raced down the right side and fired off that highlight-reel feed to Hannah Easton underneath the hoop for the easy bucket early in the overtime session.

The 5-foot-9 Nohr finished the night with the 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists versus SMUS, the Victoria school best known as the alma mater of Steve Nash, a guy made a fancy pass or two in his day.

“I saw the opportunity and I really wanted to do it,” Nohr said of the behind-the-back setup. “I’ve done it before and it’s one of my favourites. It makes the stands go crazy.” 

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Mom Chrissy Nohr, who’s Brookswood’s coach, added: “It’s her favourite move. She’s waiting for times in games she can do that.”

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Langley’s Bobcats were made up largely of the team that won the junior provincial title last season. Jordyn was tournament most valuable player.

It’s difficult to come up with records, but she has to be one of the youngest MVPs of a senior girls provincials at the very least. Aislinn Konig won three-straight Quad A MVPs for Brookswood from 2014-16. Lisa Tindle did the same for Vancouver’s York House at Double A from 2003-05.

Chrissy played university ball at Trinity Western University. Dad Randy Nohr is a former national teamer.

Asked about whether she realized Grade 9s don’t normally have this kind of success at senior high basketball, Jordyn laughed and said, “Who thinks that?”

“Before the game, all of us were talking and the Grade 12s don’t think of us as Grade 9s and we don’t think of them as Grade 12s,” she continued. “We’re all equals. We all just love playing together.”

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Seaquam, of North Delta, is another young team as well, made up largely of the squad that won the junior provincial title two seasons ago. Their eight-player rotation Saturday consisted of four Grade ’10s and four Grade 11s.

They were down 58-48 late in the third quarter to Riverside, the reigning Quad A champions for Port Coquitlam. The Seahawks never panicked, and went up for good when Mackenzie Henderson drained a three-pointer from the top left to make it 64-62 in the Seahawks favour with 5:46 remaining.

Riverside cut it to 76-73 when Sussex drained a three-pointer from with 28.8 seconds from such long-range that it probably merited a bonus point or two. The Rapids won’t tally after that, though.

Seaquam dominated the boards against Riverside, finishing with a 62-38 edge in rebounds, too.

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“I know people don’t want to hear this, but club basketball has changed the landscape of high school basketball,” Seaquam coach Lucky Toor said when quizzed about all the good young players this year. “Kids are just playing more and being trained more. Naturally they are more skilled because of it.”

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Toor tagged the win as the first senior girls provincial championship for a North Delta area team. The North Delta Huskies made the Quad A finale in 1986, losing 60-55 in that game to the Steveston Packers.

Henderson, who’s a Grade 11 guard, didn’t take a two-point shot on the night and finished with 21 points on 7-of-19 shooting from three-point range. Tait, who’s a Grade 10, had 20 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. She’s the daughter of Brian Tait, who was a standout on those Richmond Colts 1987-88 teams considered by many to be the best-ever in the province. 

Sussex, who’s headed to play at UC Davis Aggies next season, had 35 points and nine rebounds in the losing cause. She came offstage after being named MVP and instantly went to Tait, telling her that she “felt bad,” because she believed the MVP should go to the winning team.

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Riverside beat Langley’s Walnut Grove Gators 70-52 in last year’s finale and graduating Walnut Grove forward Kiera Pemberton, who set a tourney scoring record, was named MVP.

“Camryn Tait is an outstanding player. I would have given it to her right away,” Sussex said afterwards.

Unity Christian Grade 12 guard Miah Schuurman was picked MVP of Single A after putting up 42 points and 21 rebounds in her Chilliwack team’s win over Victoria’s Pacific Christian.

Flames coach Kyle Smiens talked afterwards about how excited his team was to play at the LEC. The tournament had been alternating high school hosts previously. It was Nanaimo Christian last year, and Unity Christian made the final, falling 57-50 to Langley’s Credo Christian Kodiaks.

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Unity Christian beat Credo Christian 49-37 in Friday’s semifinals at the LEC.

“We love it,” Smiens said of the venue. “It’s nice to watch the other teams play, and just being a part of this is so good for our girls. They wanted to show, they wanted the lights — we’ve been begging for it for years, and it’s awesome to get it.”

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In the Double A championship game, Langley Christian Grade 12 guard Colette Van der Hoven had 25 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals and was later named tourney MVP.

The Lighting were down 58-53 against West Vancouver’s Mulgrave in the fourth quarter.

Grade 12 forward Eva Ruse had 33 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and five steals in the defeat.

The senior boys tournaments start Wednesday at the LEC.

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@SteveEwen

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reference: theprovince.com

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