A girls junior basketball team from the remote community of Bella Coola has a lot to be proud of after placing 12 out of 24 at the junior provincial championships.
“I’m so proud,” said coach Ryan Parr, whose twin daughters Annika and Ayanna are part of the Sir Alexander Mackenzie School team. “It’s been quite the year.”
There are approximately 90 students enrolled at SAMS, and some of the schools the team was up against have hundreds of students.
Historically SAMS has not had a junior girls basketball team because there were not enough players.
Fast forward to 2021 and the school had a team of basketball girls in Grade 8 who had played and travelled together since they were six years old, thanks to the coaching and fundraising efforts of Parr and his wife Wilma Parr.
The team started practicing in November two times a week as the junior girls.
When they competed at the zones in Prince George in February, they won and qualified for the provincials.
“We came out of the North as number one seed and were hopeful to do well,” Parr said.
Recapping the games at provincials, Parr said his team was single A because of the school’s population.
Their first game was against AAA Brookswood of Langley, SAMs won the game 61-35. Annika got 27 points and was the player of the game, Ayanna got 15 points and Kashlyn Mack scored 12 points.
In the second game against AA Pacific Academy of Burnaby, SAMS lost 45-39. Annika got 22 points and Kashlyn got eight.
A third game against AA St. Thomas Moore Collegiate, Burnaby, saw SAMS win 46-33, with Annika nabbing 18 points, Kashlyn 18 points in the second half, warranting player of the game, and Mariah Hall got 10 points.
In the fourth game, which was against AAAA Oak Bay of Victoria, SAM lost 44-25 and Annika got 15 points and in the fifth game against AAAA Walnut Grove of Langley SAMS lost 47-41. Annika scored 17 points, Kashlyn managed 14 points and Ayanna put seven points on the board.
Other players on the team include Aaliyah Andy, Morgan Boileau, Glory Gordon, Jordan McKinnon, Shaylen Moody, Molly Moren, Sky Squinas and Nevaeh Squinas.
It’s been a “cool year,” as far as togetherness for the team, Parr added.
“The girls walk around the school as a unit. The season’s over and the first day back at school they were asking if we had a practice.”
Parr also noted most of the other teams at provincials were made up of players in Grades 9 and 10.
“Lots of coaches from all over were coming up and saying they couldn’t believe our girls were all Grade 8s. We’re definitely on the map now.”
Growing up Parr played on the school’s boys basketball team.
Today he works at the school as an educational assistant for Grade 10 in shops and athletics, and also organizes intramural sports.
He has retired from playing and traded it in coaching and living through the successes of his children, he said.