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Cambie Grade 9 girls head to annual basketball tournament

A new era of basketball culture at Richmond's Cambie secondary.
Cambie secondary's Grade 9 girls basketball team.

The Grade 9 girls' basketball team at Cambie secondary will be taking to the courts for the annual invitational tournament this weekend.

The 20th annual provincial invitational tournament will take place at New Westminster secondary from Feb. 29 to March 2 where 16 teams from across B.C. will compete, including the Richmond League, South Fraser champions and RA McMath secondary.

Despite H.J. Cambie Secondary School’s Grade 9 girls basketball team having an uncertain start to the season, they have demonstrated an immense amount of improvement, not only in games but in team settings as well. 

The support of their school and community was a huge key factor in their hard-earned achievements.

The Cambie Coyotes qualified for city playoffs and the team then proceeded to rank second in Richmond and third in the South Fraser Championships.

Brian Meier, head coach at Cambie's P.E. department, said this led them to “qualify for the first provincial tournament in over a decade at H.J. Cambie Secondary School."

“It’s absolutely amazing what this group of girls has been able to accomplish," said Meier.

"For a public school from East Richmond with just over 500 students from grades 8 to 12, to qualify for a provincial championship that is not tiered by school size is astonishing."

Meier added the group has shown perseverance despite facing adversity earlier in the season.

"I have told anyone who is willing to listen, that this is the type of group that you can really build a program around. I look forward to seeing what this group will continue to do moving forward!”

The Cambie Coyotes have repeatedly proved their mantra that “it is not how you start, but how you finish."

Their success is a testament to their committed coaches who stepped up to coach partway through the season to ensure the team could continue. Coaches T.J. Renshi and Chrissy Benz are impressed by the girls' resilience and determination to challenge themselves and continually improve in all aspects of the game.  

Along with their dedication on the court, the team has committed to their community by donating $100 to the Pink Whistle Legacy Fund.

During February, Basketball BC Officials donned pink and black uniforms and wore pink whistles to raise awareness and money for the BC Cancer Foundation, a community initiative launched in 2010 by legendary referee, Karn Dhillon. 

However, this was only one of the many ways the team continuously showcased generosity and leadership. The girls on the team also volunteered by helping out the basketball team at Kathleen McNeely Elementary to set an example for the younger generation to follow.

“It’s inspiring to work with these girls and witness their incredible level of commitment to each other and to representing their school and the City of Richmond to the best of their abilities," said Benz, assistant coach at Cambie secondary.

"I came in to help out at a few practices, but I’ve been absolutely drawn in by their strength and drive.

"It’s been a challenging season for them, but they continue to show up for each other and do whatever they can to support their teammates. It’s been such a rewarding experience and I’m thankful that my daughters are watching and learning from these young women.”

The community, school, and the girls themselves are eager for provincials, as the team is ready to give it their all.

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