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Photos: South Delta produces best finish at provincials in 19 years

Tsawwassen school bounced back from opening round loss with three straight wins in just their second provincial appearance since 2004

The South Delta Sun Devils put a tough opening round loss behind them to produce their best finish on senior girls basketball’s biggest stage in 19 years.

The Tsawwassen school closed out the B.C. AAAA Championships at the Langley Events Centre with a 64-51 win over Victoria’s Reynolds Roadrunners to finish ninth out of 16 teams.

The Sun Devils entered the season with high expectations, coming off their first provincial appearance since 2004 and a number of key players returning.

They spent much of the regular season ranked among the top 10 in B.C., but a challenging schedule and injuries took its toll as the campaign unfolded. 

The gap between themselves and the contending teams grew to the point where No. 11 South Delta was simply over matched in its 72-42 loss to No. 6 Kelowna in last Wednesday’s (March 1) opening round game.

“I loaded our season up with games against only the best teams, tournaments and programs. There were a lot of losses, frustration and we never did have a full roster,” reflected head coach Sharon Butler who didn’t have 2022 South Fraser all-star and senior Mackenzie Campbell available for the entire playoffs due to injury. “In the end, we embraced the adversity together and played our best basketball the final 2.5 games. It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish.”

The Sun Devils produced wins over No. 14 RE Mountain (75-64) and No. 10 Heritage Woods (75-62) to reach the consolation final and get past the No. 12 Roadrunners to finish one spot better than a year ago.

“We came back from being down 10 at halftime to Mountain and outscored them by 21 in the second half,” continued Butler. “Our rebounding, intensity on defence improved dramatically and we started cutting and moving on offence. The compete level and energy it took to come back against Mountain carried through to the final two games.

“We had six strong practices after the playoffs before provincials and I kept telling the girls our best basketball was yet to come and I truly believed it. I am so proud of how they came together and competed for each other. They all found another gear and a desire to leave it all on the court.”

Grade 11 standout Kaija Rutledge averaged 27 points and 10 rebounds over the four games, while senior forward Kira Denney added 12 points and five rebounds per game. Grade 12s Katrina Staley and Silvia Castaneda played their best basketball of the season in Langley, while Rachel Rosser was terrific defensively.

“All the seniors played with an intensity and an edge knowing it was their last high school games and we all wanted to improve on last year’s placing,” added Butler. “We have some talented Grade 10s coming up who are dedicated basketball players. I think we can take another step next year, with hard work and focus can be a top five team.”