If their results from last weekend are an indication, the Royal Bay Ravens will be a force to be reckoned with this junior girls basketball season.
The Ravens, their lineup hobbled by injuries to key Grade 10 players, still managed to reach the final of the Victoria Christmas Invitational tournament, only to lose 52-42 to a talented Panorama Ridge team from Surrey on the main court at the University of Victoria’s CARSA facility.
Ravens coach Dave Awalt said he was impressed with the way the team’s Grade 9 players stepped up their game with three Grade 10 starters out with injuries for the Saturday semifinals and final.
Having opened with a 63-13 win over Spectrum and followed up with a solid 51-39 win over Harry Ainlay from Edmonton last Friday, the Ravens came up against always-tough Brookswood from Langley in the semis.
Both teams are seen as provincial contenders this season and the game didn’t disappoint, with Royal Bay squeaking out a narrow 53-52 victory. The game was tied at 52 with four seconds left when the Ravens’ Mikayla Strandberg was fouled. The Grade 9 player sunk one of her two free throws to seal the result.
While the absence of three Grade 10 starters no doubt had an impact on the final, Awalt said, the game gave the younger players good big-game experience.
“The good news is that all three injured girls are expected back for January,” he said.
Bulldog seniors in tough with young lineup
In the senior girls division of the Christmas Invitational, the Belmont Bulldogs finished on a high note, beating Burnaby Central 54-46 in their final game on Saturday.
Post player Drew Rush, who provides a presence under the basket and in the middle of the court, was named the Bulldogs player of the game.
Belmont opened the tournament on home court with a 69-40 loss to Ballenas of Parksville (Gracie May, Bulldogs player of the game), then lost a hard-fought battle 50-41 to Pitt Meadows (Paige Sutton POG).
The Bulldogs, who lost their city AAA league opener to Claremont, return to league action at home on Jan. 3 (5:45 p.m. tipoff) against Oak Bay.