Strange as it may sound, provincial championships are somewhat old hat for the Pacific Christian School Pacers senior girls basketball team.
But despite their four B.C. championship titles in open A and AA level tournaments over the years, the Pacers had yet to win the B.C. Christian Secondary Schools Athletic Association title – until last weekend.
The Saanich team captured its first banner in the highly competitive Christian field with a come-from-behind 68-65 win over perennial strength Abbotsford Christian in last Saturday’s final in Surrey.
“(This is) so big. Me and my Grade 12 friends on the team, we’re super excited to get a banner,” said tournament MVP and Pacers point guard, Hannah Thompson. She was one of three graduating players honoured at a pennant-raising ceremony held before a Tuesday city league game at PCS.
The Pacers, who went 3-0 at the tournament, led the final for much of the game before falling behind by nine points late in the fourth quarter. Led by Kat Candell (25 points) in the backcourt and Thompson (17 points) up front, PCS went on a 14-2 run to cap the victory.
Down 65-62 with less than a minute to go, the Pacers got a baseline three-pointer from Candell to tie the game. After a stop at the other end of the court, Thompson stole the ball and raced down the court to hit a layup. She was fouled on the play and coolly sunk the free throw to give the team their final margin.
“It was a little bit surreal, but it’s an awesome story,” said PCS co-coach John Stewart. “It was neat to see it all unfold.”
Jasmine de Vries added 13 points for the Pacers in the final game. Previous wins came against Langley Christian, 66-24 in the opener, and 54-32 over Unity Christian from Chilliwack in the semifinals.
Tournament all-star Candell, one of the three Grade 12s on the Pacers, said the senior players have been gunning for a banner since Grade 6 and gelled well with the younger girls in Surrey.
“This weekend we definitely improved a lot on defence,” she said, adding that Abby Christian had three players six feet or taller in the lineup. “We trusted each other and that worked well. If we can do that again I’m confident we can do well (in the playoffs).”
The Pacers, second in the city AA league behind Lambrick Park, now set their sights on the playoffs, which begin with the Lower Island tournament on home court Feb. 14 and 15.