Brentwood College School had an impressive 3-1 record at the junior girls basketball provincial championships in Langley last week, knocking off teams from much larger schools along the way.
Because Brentwood lost their opening game on Wednesday 52-39 to College Heights, they ended up in the Rivalry Bracket, below the Championship and Showcase brackets, but went unbeaten after that to finish atop their draw.
“The coaches were really proud of the effort, determination and teamwork, and the way the girls proudly represented their school,” head coach Jillian Napier said. “It was an incredible experience for them.”
It was a rough start for 18th-seeded Brentwood, who lost two key players in their opening game against 15th-seeded College Heights. Alex Hurmuses, who had been playing quite well, went down with a knee injury after posting nine points in the first half and missed the rest of the tournament, and Jensa Napier-Ganley suffered a concussion partway through the first game and missed the second game as well.
“Those were two of our starters,” Napier commented. “And they were playing quite well before that point.”
Ella Descoteau finished that game with 17 points, while Miranda Navarro matched Hurmuses’s first-half total with nine points.
College Heights went on to the Showcase Bracket, where they ultimately lost in the final to Claremont, a team Brentwood had defeated earlier in the season.
After the loss, Brentwood regrouped on Thursday for a 54-22 victory over Duchess Park behind 16 points from Descoteau and 12 each from Navarro and Sophia Bossi.
The team’s most exciting game of the tournament came on Friday, in the Rivalry semifinal against Robert Bateman. With Brentwood down by three points with a minute left, Napier-Ganley, back from her concussion, hit a shot from beyond the arc to tie the score. Descoteau stole Bateman’s next possession and sank one of two free throws to put Brentwood up by one, then sank two more free throws before the buzzer sounded to put the game away.
“The three-pointer gave the momentum to our girls,” Napier said. “And we finished it off.”
Descoteau put up a career-high 29 points to earn Player of the Game honours against Bateman.
After all that excitement, Brentwood still had to defeat AAAA Riverside in the Rivalry final, playing a gritty game and leaving it all on the floor in a 60-47 win. Player of the Game Navarro had 22 points, while Napier-Ganley scored 10.
With two key players sidelined for much of the tournament, Napier was pleased to see the rest of the team rally.
“In a way, the silver lining is that other girls got to play key roles. Everybody that came got some good minutes. It was a good experience for all the girls, not just the starters.”
Jocelyn Lenarcic was among Brentwood’s key players throughout the tournament. The 6-foot-1 forward is Brentwood’s defensive stopper, but also plays point on the full-court press, and can chip in offensively as evidenced by the 11 points she scored against Riverside.
Eight players will move up to the senior level next year, including Lenarcic, Hurmuses and Bossi, but three of the five starters this year were in Grade 9, while Peyton Harker made this year’s team as a Grade 8 and will play a key role next year as well.