The Delta Pacers senior girls basketball team is taking its season to the Langley Events Centre after qualifying for the provincial tournament for the first time in decades.
A gritty 63-56 win over Richmond’s Steveston-London Sharks on Wednesday night locked up one of two berths up for grabs at the South Fraser 3A Zone Playoffs. The Pacers will play in the title game tonight (Thursday) against the McMath Wildcats then prepare for the inaugural BC 3A Championships. The 16-team tournament runs from Feb. 26 to 29.
Under the old tiering system, a run to the provincials nearly seemed impossible. Delta was not only grouped with the largest schools in the province, but was part of the Fraser Valley Zone that was typically loaded with top 10 ranked schools each year. The Pacers last qualified at that level in 1961.
Not only was a much-needed extra tier added this season, the zones were entirely restructured too with Delta now grouped with Richmond and Surrey teams. Throw in a determined group of athletic players and it added up to the Ladner school’s breakthrough campaign.
The Pacers went unbeaten in the regular season then captured last week’s Sur-Del playoffs on their home court.
A 48-24 win over the Richmond Colts on Tuesday set the stage for their do-or-die encounter with the Sharks.
Delta raced out to an early 18-7 lead and overcame their opponents’ trapping full court scheme to deliver head coach Kerrie Trotman her biggest win. The longtime DSS teacher has been volunteering as a coach for 31 years.
“Everything is possible. I’m living in one of my best dreams right now,” smiled Trotman. "I haven’t gone to the senior provincials since my playing days at Penticton High. This (new tier) gives other teams a chance when they really never had it before. These girls work so hard and are so dedicated too.”
It was the biggest game of Abbey Wigglesworth’s high school career and she sure delivered. The Grade 12 post was dominate in the paint all night — typically fighting through double and even triple teams to score a game-high 23 points.
Eleven of her points came during Delta’s big opening quarter. She showcased her shooting stroke too by going nine of 11 from the free throw line and never left the floor despite playing a good chunk of the second half with four fouls.
“We have had pretty good teams in the past but this our first year for me and Nava (Hothi) with the other girls,” said Wigglesworth. “We didn’t really know each other but we have really come together and everyone is giving it their all for sure.
“I was kind of expecting to be triple and doubled team, but our ball movement was good especially dealing with their press.”
The Pacers also got 13 points from Emma Webster, 11 from Hothi and 10 from Avielle Wellington. Not to be overlooked was the tireless work of Hannah Beaumont and Kim Williams, especially at the defensive end of the floor. The team also features Emily Barron, Alisha Sarran, Kendall Downie and Haruhi Sakaki. The coaching staff also includes Paige Collings.