Duncan Christian Chargers cherish their provincial experience

The Duncan Christian School Chargers didn't have the easiest draw, but they did end their season with a win.

As the host team of the single-A girls basketball provincial championships last week, the Duncan Christian School Chargers didn’t have the easiest draw, but they did end their season with a win.

The Chargers beat Bulkley Valley Christian School from Smithers 50-47 last Saturday in the battle for 15th place at the tournament, rewarded with a victory for their tenacity over a challenging four days.

“At no point in our weekend did the team as a whole give up,” head coach Michelle Nederlof said. “Once in a while, players needed a spark and the girls were there for each other. It was rewarding to see players give up their old habits to try things we’ve been working on throughout the season. During timeouts they were given new strategies and they tried them. It took a leap of faith at times, but they went for it.”

Playing in her final game with DCS, senior Danielle Groenendijk led the Chargers with 21 points, 22 rebounds and five steals. Groenendijk would be recognized after the tournament as a second-team all-star. Jenna Bakker added nine points and 16 rebounds, and Meaghan Russell, Breanna Wikkerink and Player of the Game Holly Bruce each had six points.

“The last game was our recovery game,” Nederlof said. “Again shots were inconsistent, but we pulled together at the end to pull off the win.”

The Chargers opened the tournament last Wednesday with an 82-44 loss to top-seeded Mulgrave from West Vancouver. Despite the odds, the Chargers kept playing hard until the fourth quarter. Groenendijk put up 18 points and 16 rebounds and was named Player of the Game, while Russell had 10 points and Breanna Wikkerink scored seven.

On Thursday, the Chargers lost a narrow 50-47 decision to St. Anne’s Academy from Kamloops. Groenendijk had 25 points and 24 rebounds, Player of the Game Russell had 10, and Ebonie Elliott scored nine. Bakker grabbed 14 rebounds to go with her three points.

“That game was amazing,” Nederlof said. “The girls came together, the school was loud and the atmosphere was fantastic. It was a tough loss by three, but we proved that we should be there. That game and opening ceremonies gave people the basketball bug. It is incredible how that affected our school community.”

On Friday, the Chargers struggled with their opponents’ tactics and ended up losing 72-47 to Kimberley’s Selkirk Secondary. Groenendijk put up a phenomenal line of 27 points, 29 rebounds, five steals and eight blocks. Bakker had six points and seven boards as she was named Player of the Game, and Zoey Alyward scored six points.

“We had trouble with the press and our ability to sink shots continued to be inconsistent,” Nederlof said. “It was disheartening to see the girls work so hard and not make gains.”

This was the second year that DCS hosted the girls single-A tournament, and the school once again received rave reviews. The tournament was also invaluable for the Chargers themselves.

“Provincials gave us a learning experience that was immeasurable,” Nederlof said. “It will take us right into next season and we’re already thinking about it.”

Groenendijk and her fellow graduating players, Wikkerink and Bruce, will be missed, but their impacts on the program won’t be forgotten.

“What probably stood out the most for me were those moments when players gave of themselves in ways that may not be seen on a scoresheet,” Nederlof said. “We spoke about the legacy our senior players were leaving and how others would be taking that up. We spoke about going beyond doing the things we’ve always done and being what we have imagined we could do. Those are experiences that will take the girls out of basketball season and into life.”