Belmont Bulldogs forward Jessica Thomson (in white) puts up a shot against Stelly’s earlier this season. Belmont is competing in and hosting the south Island AAA senior girls basketball championship tournament this weekend.

High school girls playoff basketball takes over Belmont

Bulldogs take aim at Islands AAA berth on home court this weekend

Greater Victoria high school girls basketball teams battle it out at Belmont secondary starting tonight (Feb. 12) and tomorrow to determine which four automatically advance to the Island AAA championships.

Aiming to be one of those four the host Bulldogs, the No. 5 seed, play No. 4 Spectrum in a first-round match today at 5:45 p.m. Top seed Oak Bay awaits the winner of that game, with Friday’s semifinal also happening at 5:45 p.m.

Third-seed Mount Douglas and Stelly’s, who won a play-in game over Reynolds earlier this week, meet in opening round action tonight at 7:15 p.m., with the winner to play No. 2 seed Claremont in the semifinals at 7:15 p.m. Friday.

With four of seven teams guaranteed a spot in the Island championships – and a fifth able to challenge No. 4 in the North for another spot – the South Island is clearly in the driver’s seat when it comes to contesting berths for the upcoming provincial AAA championships.

“I think it’s unlikely that anyone will knock off Oak Bay or Claremont,” said Belmont coach Brad Lidstone, noting that the two will likely meet in Saturday’s final at 6 p.m.

The rest of the pack is quite even, he added, meaning it’s important for the Bulldogs not take any team for granted. “I think we are confident, but we know we need to play our best basketball to be successful. We’re not taking anybody lightly.”

The modified draw doesn’t guarantee that all four teams in the semifinals advance to the Islands. Losing teams in the semis cross over to play first-round losers Saturday starting at 9 a.m. The winners of those games play for third and fourth at 4:30 p.m.

In last week’s provincial rankings, Oak Bay and Claremont were eighth and ninth, respectively, highest among Island teams. Defending B.C. champion Brookswood Bobcats from Langley remain No. 1.

Belmont, which won its last two league games to finish at 3-3, was one of three teams to finish with a .500 regular season record. Since the trio each went 1-1 in head-to-head games, the tiebreaker used to determine placing was point differential in those games.

The Island AAA championships happen Feb. 18 to 20 at Claremont.

AA hoops season over for Ravens … Vying to secure a berth into this week’s AA senior girls city tournament, the Royal Bay Ravens lost a heartbreaker, 45-42 to Edward Milne in a challenge game on Tuesday.

The Ravens had finished fifth in league play.

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