Riverside Crowned as 4A Champs

Saturday evening, the Walnut Grove Gators faced the Riverside Rapids in the 4A Provincial Championship game. All eyes were on the Gators #9, Kiera Pemberton, who had recently shown the power to lead her Gators team, making plays at both ends of the court.

An outstanding crowd had shown up in support of their girls who had made it to the championship match. The Gators and Rapids wasted no time after the jump ball, getting a combined 6 points on the board, in less than 30 seconds. Pemberton was making it tough for the Rapids. Though the Rapids, led by their own number 9, Avery Sussex (Grade 11), took advantage of her opportunities to drain timely shots. The Gators had their work cut out for them to keep up with the Rapids, shot-for-shot. By the last two minutes of the first quarter, the Rapids had taken a 4 point lead over the Gators, 17-13, appearing to be a structured unit at both ends of the court.

Second quarter, 2 minutes in, the Gators had not been able to shape the game in their favor, as the Rapids extended their lead by 7, 25-18. Riversides Annabelle Neufeld (#4, Grade 10) is celebrated when she hits a 3-point shot, securing the Rapids lead by 10 half way through the quarter, 28-18. Riverside was staunchly protecting their lead, not allowing the Gators to score more than 2 points for the rest of the first half. Rapids, Grace Park (#7, Grade 12), secures the Rapids 14 point lead at the half. The Rapids made it tough for Walnut Grove to make any sort of play, the Gators were stuck trailing the Rapids 38-24.

The Rapids had shown a great deal of competence defensively and offensively in the first 20 minutes of the game. In the coming 20, the Rapids need to maintain their momentum and stop Kiera Pemberton from traveling the court with ease. The Riverside girls seem determined to get this win but the Gators came out hungry for retribution.

Riverside’s Avery Sussex, faking out the Gators’ defenses to get a big layup, Rapids still expanding their lead only a minute into the third quarter 40-25. The Gators are desperately trying to close the gap. Walnut Goves Kyanna Knodel (#7, Grade 11) with the three, trying to close the gap. The Rapids Jorja Hart (#22, Grade 10) was dead set on keeping the 15 point lead at 43-28. The Gators had seemed to be growing tired and the Rapids were taking advantage.

Half way through the quarter, Pemberton was charging up the court forcing fouls, gaining 9 points on free throws. Walnut Grove had dropped Riverside’s 15 point lead to 11 with 3 minutes left in the quarter, 55-44. However the Rapids kept to their well coached structure and gained back their 14 point lead by the end of the quarter, going into the last 10 minutes of the game 59-46.

In the quarter finals, the Gators managed to come back, from trailing 15 points. However, the Rapids still had 10 minutes, and did not allow those minutes for Pemberton and Walnut Grove to make any sort of comeback. The Rapids made quick work and became the 2023 4A Senior Girl Provincial Champions.

In all the excitement, the Riverside Rapids had a lot to celebrate with their Championship girls, but Avery Sussex couldn’t have been more proud of her team and their work ethic throughout the tournament. “I’m so proud of everyone. How far we’ve come. How much it took, and how

we all connected right up to the last leg, all required to get that energy together. It’s everything,” says Sussex, and goes on to say, “I’m ecstatic, I’m so excited, so happy. We wanted this for so long, and we finally got it, it was the best outcome we can get”. In that last quarter, it seemed as though everything fit into place for the Rapids, “When everyone starting hazing some shots, getting through with the blocks on Kiera [Pemberton], getting their momentum to go down and we rising up”, and with this Avery can confidently say, “Let’s go get another banner, next year,” with a smile that screams ‘Rising Champion’.

Tejpaul Garcha

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