It was a comeback for the ages Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
The Maple Ridge Ramblers senior girls basketball team marched all the way back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to stun the Brookswood Bobcats 73-67 in the Fraser Valley Triple A final.
Brookswood led 50-44 after three quarters and built that lead to 12 points with five minutes to go.
With just three minutes remaining before the final buzzer, the 'Cats had a healthy 10-point lead before the Ramblers, led by 6'3" star and tournament MVP Kolbie Orum, stormed back to tie the game at 63 on an Orum basket.
The Ramblers moved ahead 65-63 with a little more than a minute to go and never relinquished the lead to win their first Fraser Valley title in 57 years.
Brookswood bench boss Neil Brown said the loss is on him and his Bobcats co-coach Chris Veale.
"We had a good lead with three minutes to go and simply let the game slip through our hands," Brown said. "As coaches, we have to take responsibility for the loss as it was a total team collapse."
Emphasizing the word "we" Brown added, "We simply did not have the team ready to play. We beat Maple Ridge by 40 earlier in the year ,and I think many of us thought we just had to show up and the game was ours. We did not show up. Hopefully we will have some intense practices this coming week and right the ship. The season is not over yet, we just took a slight detour."
Ramblers coach Don Herman said he's "in shock" following his team's comeback against a Bobcats squad that's ranked second among Triple A teams in B.C.
"It was such an inspired win and what a comeback," Herman said. "Down 12 points with five minutes left and no time outs, it was looking pretty bleak."
Herman called a time out with a little more than five minutes remaining and told his troops that there was time to come back, but they needed good shots on every possession.
"We had a three-to-four minute stretch where we were settling for perimeter shots and not looking to attack the hoop enough," Herman said. "Their post had four fouls and was on the bench so they had nobody who could match up with Kolbie inside. Get it to Kolbie every chance we could and Kolbie, don't you dare leave the low post."
The Ramblers executed the plan and once the tide turned, the Bobcats started to play "a bit cautious," in Herman's opinion.
With Brookswood forced to foul in the dying moments, the MRSS girls made their foul shots to close out the win.
"Unbelievable, as they had beat us in our league game a few weeks ago 92-50," Herman said. "It shows that anything can happen in a one-game scenario. Winning the Frasers is such an incredibly difficult task."
The league and zone is so good year in and year out that it is a major feat to simply qualify for the tournament, Herman said.
This is only the third time (1946, 1956, 2013) in MRSS history that a Ramblers team has been able to win this tournament.
Orum, who piled up 46 points on the Riverside Rapids the night before, finished the night with 40 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks, and five steals.
Tournament first all star Jane Grisley recorded 10 points to go along with five rebounds, and four blocks.
Fellow Fraser Valley first all-star Kirby Marchand (seven points, three rebounds, four steals) and Devan Cousins (10 points, four rebounds) also had strong games for the Ramblers.
Shara Marchand, who recorded four points and four rebounds, had a key steal in the last minute, forcing the Bobcats to take an intentional foul which gave the Ramblers a pair of free throws and the ball back.
All four of Marchand's points came at the free throw line in the final minute to clinch the win.
Herman noted that the Ramblers two reserve players, Danica Severinski and Lindsay Charron, put in valuable minutes to rest starters and protect players in foul trouble.
There were bright spots for the Bobcats, who battled to the very end against a very determined opponent.
Lindsay Wand had 18 points to lead all Bobcats scorers, while Syd Williams had 17 and Jessie Brown and Marissa Van Noort had 12 each.
Brown, Williams, and Van Noort received Fraser Valley all-star selections.
The Ramblers, Bobcats, Riverside Rapids, and W.J. Mouat Hawks earned spots in the provincial championships from the Valley tourney.
Fleetwood, Yale, Gleneagle, and MEI play wild card games tonight (Feb. 25) to decide the other two Valley seedings.
In Fraser Valley regional play, the 'Cats beat North Surrey 93-34 Feb. 18 and Yale 96-48 Feb. 19. Once in the championship round, the 'Cats earned a spot in the final with a 88-51 win over W.J. Mouat Friday at the LEC.
The Ramblers defeated Chilliwack 75-35 Feb. 18 and MEI (from Abbotsford) 73-34 on Feb. 19. Both regional games were at Maple Ridge Secondary.
In the championship round, Maple Ridge punched its ticket to the final by beating Riverside 73-57 Friday at the LEC.