The underdogs are on their way to provincials! PSS Senior Boys Basketball team overcome pandemic set-backs, fundraise in 36 hours, and do us proud

This update, from Oliver Richman, reads to me like a treatment for a movie… it totally had me tearing up. Stoked to share it here and cheer on the PSS Senior Boys Basketball team as they head off to Provincials next week. Local athletes from our region consistently do this community proud.

As co-captain of the Pemberton Secondary School Senior Boys Basketball team, this is the story of our season as we prepare for our team’s trip to 1A Provincials at the Langley Events Centre, March 8-12 (http://www.bchighschoolbasketballchampionships.com/1aboys/

The pandemic restrictions took away any opportunity to play last school year, making it impossible for us to have our first chance as seniors to make it to Provincials. When I was in elementary school I used to go to the Provincial tournaments with my dad who was the Senior Girls’ coach, I was also able to watch my sister play at the Provincial 1A girls tournament in 2018 and 2019 (and she’s now our assistant coach!) and getting there as a player has been a dream of mine since I was 7. After hearing that we were allowed to play games this season our athletic director and coach did their best to schedule as many games as possible. Being a rural school, getting games is always a bit of a challenge. This year was again difficult for us because although we had 3 tournaments scheduled in January and were gearing up for game play on the road to Provincials, tournaments were disallowed by the PHO before we were able to get started. We are too far from any 1A league to compete regularly or for single games. 

Our zone consists of 7 teams from Vancouver, mostly downtown and Kitsilano area. These teams were able to play all year in individual games as it was only tournaments that were canceled from January – mid February. The Minister of Education allowed tournament play to resume on February 4, 2022! We signed up and went to a tournament the next weekend, getting some valuable game time in before our Zone Playoff (it wasn’t pretty, we did not play very well). 

In order to qualify for the Provincial tournament we had to come in first or second in our Zone Playoff Tournament which was held from February 24-28th at St.John’s school in Vancouver. We had to win 3 out of our 4 games in order to make it to Provincials. We came into these playoffs as the underdogs with very little game experience and ranked as the 5th seed. We started our run on Thursday, beating the 4th seed team Jules-Vernes. The next day the biggest challenge arose and we played the 1st seed in the zone (ranked Provincially at #6). We played some awesome basketball and while we worked hard until the end we lost by 7 points. This meant that we had to win the next two games. Coming into these two games as the underdogs we understood we had nothing to lose, we were buoyed by our close loss to #1 and we played the best basketball we have ever played. After winning on Saturday and again on Monday, in close, Pemberton-grit-style basketball we have managed to qualify into the Provincials. 

I can’t even tell you how excited we are. With food, gas, hotel and tournament costs, Provincials are quite expensive. As COVID squished our season and pushed the Zone tournament back by a week, it gave us only one week to fundraise. The normal avenues of community fundraising like bottle drives and dinners were not available to us as we leave in 7 days! Recognizing that our community is a supportive one and also knowing that grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends could contribute from afar, we started a gofundme page and received generous contributions from our community, from the Red Devils Alumni Association and from Area C. In 36 hours we have raised enough money to enable the team to travel! We are loving the support.

Go Devils!

On behalf of the Pemberton Senior Boys Basketball Team, 

Oliver 

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