The ADSS Armada girls were tied 41–41 with Highland going into the fourth quarter of their Friday night basketball game at Totem 65, and for a few moments it seemed they were heading in the same direction as last year’s epic overtime tilt.
Despite a hard-fought final quarter though, the team from Alberni District Secondary School fell 54–50 to the team from Comox.
The girls won their first game against Kwalikum Secondary Kondors 64–29.
Snow that closed Port Alberni Summit (the Hump) on Highway 4 early Friday morning only forced a 15-minute delay as two teams were stuck on the other side, tournament organizer Mike Roberts said.
This year’s tournament has eight girls’ teams and eight boys’ teams from Vancouver Island the Lower Mainland competing.
Friday’s game was all about comebacks and heart for the Armada, coach Ryan Broekhuizen said.
“We were down 12 to 14 points, I can’t remember exactly, early. We made a real good comeback to tie at 41 points,” he said.
In the fourth quarter the Armada were down by 10 points, then fought back with some unanswered baskets to take a six-point lead. Fatigue played a role as the comeback fizzled. “Our starters played a lot of minutes tonight and they were pretty tired by the end.
“Some of the younger players were having trouble with the excitement and composure of the evening. I had to keep the starters out probably longer than I wanted,” he said. “The effort level was unbelievable. We fought back twice in a big game like that, so I’m super proud of them.”
Highland is a AA team that has been a leader for their division this year, and the Armada play a level below. Broekhuizen predicted the two squads will meet again, as Highland also has several Grade 11 students.
“They’re a tough team. They made some shots,” he said. In particular, Emma Warren scored several points for the visitors from Comox, including a few three-pointers.
Players of the game were Warren for Highland and Memphis Dick for ADSS.
Highland advances to the gold medal game against the winner of the PCS vs. Nanaimo District Secondary (NDSS) game Saturday morning (Jan. 11, 10:45 a.m. at ADSS). The gold medal game will be played at 4 p.m. at Alberni Athletic Hall.
Friday’s contest was especially emotional for team captain Abbie Dods, who as a Grade 12 player is competing in her final Totem tournament. Dods fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, meaning she was on the bench in the late minutes of the game.
When Dods left the floor in tears, her teammates greeted her with hugs and the stands erupted in chants of “Abbie! Abbie!”
“The school spirit here, that’s what makes Totem,” Broekhuizen said after the game. “The thing about Totem that’s so good is the emotion in the room. Win or lose, they’re cheering for us.”
He credited all Dods’ fouls to “effort plays,” and acknowledged how emotional it was for her and other Grade 12 players on the squad.
“She’s in Grade 12, so that’s the last Friday night game. That’s what we talked about: last Thursday night game of their career, last Friday night game,” he said.
“Tomorrow night is their last Totem game of their Armada career. We had a good hug as a team. There was a lot of love in that room,” he said.
The Armada girls will play their final game at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11 at ADSS against the loser of the PCS vs. Nanaimo District Secondary School game (scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Saturday at ADSS).
Follow all the scores on the Totem 65 Facebook page.