No one should be surprised that the Royal Bay Ravens are the team to beat in this week’s city junior girls basketball playoffs.
The Colwood squad, comprised largely of members of the Dunsmuir middle school team that placed seventh at the Grade 8 provincials in 2015, finished first with a 9-1 record in league play.
In tomorrow’s (Feb. 10) semifinal this afternoon at Claremont, they’ll play the winner between No. 5 Belmont and No. 6 Stelly’s, who play Tuesday afternoon. The Ravens’ semifinal berth in the cities assures them of a top-four finish and placement into the Island tournament, being held Feb. 18 to 20 at Royal Bay.
“The (Dunsmuir grads) have played together for such a long time, and eight of the girls have played together in night league,” said Ravens coach Dave Awalt, trying to explain the team’s success.
Not only does Royal Bay have the familiarity thing going on, there’s talent there, too.
Grade 9 point guard Lauren Awalt, Dave’s daughter, leads the teams with 16.2 points per game, while Grade 9 forward Hannah Cormode has contributed 13.6 per game. Both girls played on the provincial under-14 team last year and saw some strong competition along the way.
Other team members are Grade 10s Rachel Ready and Desere Sophonow, and Grade 9s Kate Berry, Kaylee Jordison, Maren Konrad, Hayley Pettigrew, Rachel Schmidt and Bella Vedova.
The Ravens’ only loss this year came in December to Claremont, who finished second at 7-3. With a 3-2 record in tournament play – being a new school left them off the invite list for many established tournaments – Royal Bay is rated No. 12 in the province.