The Charles Hays Secondary School (CHSS) Rainmakers junior girls basketball team ended their season by winning the Northwest Zone title on Feb. 12.
The Rainmakers beat their sole Zone A competitor, Nisga’a Elementary Secondary School, 36-9 and 43-13 in the best-of-three series to take home the title.
The girls were able to show massive improvement, especially accounting for the fact they haven’t played a competitive season for two years, Rampi Gill, team coach, said.
The only other competitive exposure the junior girls team got was at the beginning of season, in November, against Terrace, Gill said.
Apart from the one competition, the girls practiced five days a week and played house games against other school teams in Prince Rupert to keep sharpening their skills, all without knowing if they would be able to play games or not due to pandemic mandates.
“Some of the girls are legitimately coming from elementary [school] and trying to play against junior varsity, which is quite the jump if you’ve missed two years,” the coach said. “A lot of them went from non-competitive play to absolutely being 100 per cent on the other end of the spectrum being super competitive.”
The powerful performance at the Zone competition earned the team’s 12-strong bench the top accolades.
Rainmaker’s player Kaydence Brooks won the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award while Lauryn Leask, Kendra Hughes and Claire Reece were recognized as CHSS All Star competitors.
“The girls really came together at the end and really played as a team,” Gill said. “Everything clicked at the right time.”
The strong performance bodes well for the revival of girls basketball in the North, Barton Hughes, the team’s teacher sponsor and basketball coach, said.
“It seems to have taken a back seat to the boys, [but] the turnout for junior girls was so strong and so positive,” Hughes said. “I’m really encouraged about the future of girls basketball in Prince Rupert.”
By winning the zone competition, the junior girls team earned a spot at the provincial tournament. However, due to continued pandemic uncertainties, travel costs and the team’s relative lack of regional competitive experience they will unlikely head to the Lower Mainland to compete this year, Gill said.
The coach hopes next year will bring a more normal regular season with multiple away and home games to build a team that will be ready to take on the provincial tournament.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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