Hope’s Zoe Kamp slows down Agassiz’ Rionna Vanderwyk, in Saturday’s 46-37 loss, at the Columbia Bible College gym in Abbotsford. The Mustangs narrowly missed qualifying for the provincials this year and will lose seven seniors to graduation, including Rachel Utz and Maritza Botha (#7 and 11 in the background). Barry Stewart photo

Hope athletes test their mettle at provincial tournaments

Locals compete in curling, ringette, skiing and basketball across province

On many fronts, it was a tough week for sports in Hope, as teams and individuals challenged at the provincial and near-provincial level and returned with no medals — but perhaps with a bit more mettle to add to their bodies of work.

B.C. WINTER GAMES

Hope Secondary Grade 9 students Julius Brysch and Danielle Bacon competed at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops, up against the best in the province in their age groups.

Brysch finished 21 out 60 skiers in the slalom at Sun Peaks and 33 out of 60 in the giant slalom. He was the best of three male skiers from Zone 3. Bacon’s Zone 3 ringette team finished in fourth place, out of eight teams.

Brysch’s sister Verena stayed home to help the senior Mustang girls’ basketball team in their quest to get to the single-A provincials but his parents Stefan and Esther attended the games.

“The conditions were pretty good,” said Julius, who hopes to switch to spring league soccer in Chilliwack in the coming months. Skiing isn’t a wrap, though. “We’ll be training still, until there’s no more snow.”

On the rink, Bacon’s Zone 3 Fraser Valley team won two and lost three. Her parents, Dan and Carol and family friends were in attendance.

“Danielle skated hard and scored seven goals last weekend, with a lot of assists,” said Dad. “She had an incredible weekend and got to meet and become friends with a lot of people.”

Mom added, “I am so thankful to the volunteers and coaches, for putting on such an incredible event.”

BC SENIORS CURLING

On a different kind of ice, a group of women from Hope and Chilliwack took on the province’s best senior women curlers at the provincials in Enderby.

Skipped by Kelly Jones of Chilliwack, the team’s lead is Natalie Lowe, also of Chilliwack. Lowe is the secretary-treasurer for School District 78. Hope Secondary School principal, Rosalee Floyd, throws second and Debbie McKinney, third.

The team was in a tough place, at 1-and-3 after four games of the round robin and ended up 3-and-4. Jones said Tuesday, “Overall, we were happy with that. It could have been 5-and-2 but we had some bad breaks — and our first two games were against last year’s winner and the runner-up.”

“Lots of teams go for the first time and they don’t have any wins,” added Jones. The Lynne Noble rink captured gold, with a record of 8-and-0.

MUSTANGS BASKETBALL

The Hope Secondary senior Mustang girls basketball team had high hopes and expectations, going into the weekend.

A win against their arch rivals, Agassiz, would give them a berth in the provincials for the first time in 30 years. Failing that, they’d get a back-door chance against another team on Monday.

Playing on a neutral court Saturday at Columbia Bible College, the Mustangs held narrow leads after the first two quarters. An Agassiz surge in the third quarter wasn’t countered and the girls could never close the gap.

“We played tough defense the whole game, except for the third quarter where they pulled ahead,” said coach Jeff Kuhn.

When the team lost to Agassiz, they were forced into a game with Richmond Christians (RC) as a cross-over. Coach Kuhn knew RC had beat Maple Ridge Christian (MRC) by four, but MRC did not have their best player when the two teams met Feb. 22.

“The MRC coach told me a little about RC, but it turned out that Richmond Christian’s best player was away for that game with MRC. She came out against us and by scoring 12 in the first quarter, helped them to take a 10-point lead,” he said.

“We played them evenly until the middle of the third when Camryn Ogren inspired a solid run (and totaled 22 points for the night) to bring us back within one point.”

In the same stretch, Hannah Chisholm and Maritza Botha both fouled out. The team “ran out of gas” and lost by 10 points.

With playoff dreams dashed, the team is now looking at a huge rebuild, as they lose seven seniors to graduation: Botha, Zoe Kamp, Beth Kuhn, Rachel Utz, Atamjit Gill, Abbie Striker and Kay-Lah Peters.

Rising from the disappointment of the losses, Kuhn offered an inspiring Facebook post to his team Tuesday.

“We didn’t make it to provincials,” the message read.

“But look at what we did do. We won 15 games (we’ve never won more than 5 games in a season for the last 5 years), we placed 1st in our home tournament, 2nd in the Barriere Tourney (with 2 starters missing), and 3rd in the Agassiz Tourney.”

Coach Kuhn praised the team and the culture shift they had inspired, bringing out fans who drove for hours to watch them play.

“There is no failure in this season. You guys have succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. So hold your head up high. Grade 12s, you will be missed,” he wrote.

“I can hardly even write that without tearing up, but you have left a strong legacy and example for those who follow. We will not let that die.”

Always looking to build the local basketball culture, Kuhn is heading up the Steve Nash basketball program for elementary students this spring.

Registration runs from March 1 to March 16 and information will be delivered to local schools this week.

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Team Jones made it to provincials in Enderby and played hard, ending up at 3-and-4. The team, from left, are skip Kelly Jones, third Debbie McKinney, second Rosalee Floyd and lead Natalie Lowe. Jette Russell photo

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