Cowichan T-Birds return to provincials

Cowichan T-Birds return to provincials

After an absence of two decades, Cowichan Secondary School’s senior girls basketball team is returning to the provincial championships.

A third-place finish at the Island championships on Feb. 13-15, followed by a win in a challenge game against Royal Bay on Feb. 18, propelled the Thunderbirds to the 2020 high school girls AAAA tournament that starts on Wednesday in Langley.

“It’s all coming together at the right time,” head coach Sandeep Heer said. “The girls are excited. They’re super happy and glad to be going.”

The T-Birds lost their opening game at Islands against Belmont, but didn’t let that stop them as the older players rallied their teammates to three straight victories.

This year’s team includes seven Grade 12s, the bulk of whom went to the Grade 8 provincial invitational in 2016, and the junior provincials as Grade 10s in 2018. This will mark their third trip to provincials in five years, all with Heer behind the bench.

“The girls had a different focus after the first loss,” Heer said. “The Grade 12s made it their goal after the first loss to make it to provincials. I haven’t seen them that focused — maybe a few times over the year. It was neat to see them turn it around.”

Everyone contributed at both ends of the floor as the T-Birds surged in their next three matches. Heer had glimpses of that kind of play over the course of the season, but hadn’t seen the team sustain such a high level of performance.

“I had kind of been waiting for it,” he said. “They’ve had a few moments during the season where things were clicking all around.”

The T-Birds beat Reynolds in their second game, then defeated Oak Bay in a crossover to set up a rematch with Belmont for third place. Cowichan won that game by 30 points.

“The girls just turned it on on offence and defence,” Heer recalled.

Finishing in third gave the T-Birds a chance to challenge second-place Royal Bay because the teams hadn’t met during the course of Islands. The T-Birds prevailed 50-46 to earn a berth in provincials.

Mackenzie Hall was a first-team all-star at Islands, and Alyssa Klotz was named to the second team. Eden Funk was excellent for Cowichan at the defensive end, averaging four or five blocks and eight to 10 rebounds per game.

“She’s awesome on defence,” Heer said.

Jessica Castle also stood out in a challenging role.

“I usually put her on the other team’s strongest guard,” Heer explained. “And she does a tremendous job.”

It will take a team effort to succeed at provincials, and that’s what the T-Birds are putting together right now.

“Everyone is playing together and we’re all on the same page,” Heer said.

Seeded 13th, Cowichan will open the 16-team tournament against No. 4 Walnut Grove. The teams haven’t met previously this season, but Heer has tracked down some info about the Gators.

“It will be an interesting game,” he said. “I think they’ll want to play a fast-paced game. We have a lot of height and size, we like to slow things down. It will be interesting to see which team can control and play to their speed.

“You never know. We’re an unknown to them, and they’re an unknown to us. You never know what can happen in a game.”

basketball

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Duncan initiates pilot project to deal with graffiti

Project based on a successful one in Port Alberni

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Doug Routley is the chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act. (File photo)
Routley selected chair of a special committee on reforming the Police Act

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA acknowledges there will be a lot of material to process

The area on Cordova Bay Road where ancestral human remains were discovered Feb. 22. (Submitted photo)
Human remains discovery a reminder of B.C. Indigenous culture dug up and displaced

‘These are the people who inspired and birthed the generations that we now have here’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read