A season that began loaded with question marks concluded as one of the best in the history of South Delta Sun Devils senior girls basketball.
The Sun Devils concluded a memorable campaign with a 10th place finish at the B.C. AAAA Girls Championship at the Langley Events Centre.
South Delta went 2-2, falling 75-58 to Yale in its opening game before bouncing back with wins over North Peace (87-35) and West Vancouver (55-51). The girls then dropped a 93-66 decision to Kelowna on Saturday.
After seeing the 2020/21 campaign completely wiped out by the pandemic, Sun Devils head coach Sharon Butler made her delayed debut at the senior level with a starting line-up that didn’t have a single Grade 12 player.
The Devils made early noise at the Howard Tsumura Invitational in December with a top four finish, then played some of its best basketball of the season when it mattered most, capturing last month’s South Fraser Championship to secure their first B.C. berth in 17 years.
“What an incredible experience for these girls and so invaluable for their development moving forward,” said Butler. “I am very proud of our group and all they were able to accomplish as a team. It was a brand-new group who really had never played together and they were able to learn to share the ball, play team defence and have some good offensive sets.
“The future is bright and we can’t wait until next season to continue to develop and make some noise at the AAAA level.”
The win over West Vancouver on Friday avenged an earlier season loss as South Delta opened up a 46-33 lead after three quarters then turned back a Highlanders’ comeback bid in the final 10 minutes.
Kelowna’s size and depth proved to be too much on Saturday as the Okanagan champions, ranked No. 6 for much of the season, pulled away in the second half after the Devils had crept within eight at the break after being down big early.
Kaija Rutledge, Mackenzie Campbell and Kira Denney led South Delta in scoring throughout the tournament, averaging 19, 17 and 14 points per game respectively. Rutledge is in Grade 10 while Campbell and Denney are in Grade 11.
“I am so proud of Kira, who I continually challenged all season to be a force on defence and work hard to secure rebounds. She took it all to heart and with each game got better defensively throughout the season,” said Butler of her hard-working starting post.
An all Port Coquitlam final saw Terry Fox upset No. 1 Riverside 77-75 in Saturday’s championship game.
“I said all along that no teams could beat the top five, except the top five and that proved to be the case. The final between Terry Fox and Riverside was incredible,” Butler added.