There were moments during the second half of Saturday’s gold medal game where it looked as though the B.C. high school junior girls basketball title was going to stay in Langley.
The hometown Walnut Grove Gators had North Vancouver’s Argyle Pipers on the ropes, before the Pipers made a few clutch shots in the fourth quarter to win 71-65.
The Gators were worthy finalists of a provincial tournament that marked its 35th year.
The Walnut Grove girls cruised to a 71-16 win over Nechako Valley in their opener Wednesday, downed South Kamloops 63-53 on Thursday, and, in a thriller of a semifinal, edged Kelowna 62-60 on Friday.
Gators head coach Darren Rowell said his players have no reason to hang their heads.
“Obviously we would have liked to win it, but I’m proud of the girls, how much they’ve improved this year,” Rowell said. “It was a good effort.”
Rowell said the players were dedicated to basketball all season.
Asked what he was going to say to the players in the locker room, Rowell answered, “just how proud I am, how hard they worked, and that we lost to a team that played really hard today.”
Gators guard Tavia Rowell was named Walnut Grove’s player of the game in the final and was also tabbed as a first team all-star.
Her teammate, forward Natalia Munro, earned a spot on the tournament’s second all-star team.
Argyle’s Georgia Swant was named both tournament MVP and top player for her team in the provincial final.
The B.C. finalist Gators are Alex Tadic, Ayliffe Jones, Grace Chalk, Jenna Stea, Jessica Wisotzki, Jordan Jacobs, Leah Fortin, Natalie Monro, Natalie Rathler, Rachel Mullin, Rolande Taylor, Tavia Rowell, and Tina Tao.
FINAL BUZZER: This was the second silver in as many weeks for the Gators. On Feb. 20, they lost 56-54 to Lord Tweedsmuir in the Fraser Valley championship game at Maple Ridge Secondary School.