Richmond senior boys basketball teams are poised to thrive in the new South Fraser Zone.
The long-running Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley playdowns have been dissolved after BC School Sport’s decision to expand the Greater Vancouver area from two to four zones.
Richmond schools are now grouped with Surrey and Delta when it comes time for regional playoffs. The 4A tier for the largest schools is loaded with Surrey teams but there are very few at 3A and 2A.
That should be encouraging news when it comes time for provincial qualifying if the pre-season rankings are any indication.
The only South Fraser teams recognized at the 3A level are all from Richmond — the MacNeill Ravens (No. 3), McMath Wildcats (No. 5) and Steveston-London Sharks (HM). There are expected to be three B.C. tournament berths up for grabs.
At the 2A level, the Hugh Boyd Trojans are joined by Surrey private schools Pacific Academy and Southridge as honourable mentions.
The season starts tonight including the four ranked teams involved in the Big Ticket Tournament that features 32 schools doing battle across the Lower Mainland.
The Ravens will get to see an old Lower Mainland rival when they take on Byrne Creek at New West.
They are coming off their best finish in school history, that culminated with a fourth place finish at the BC tournament, and bring back several key players including guard Jackson Thackwray who was a second team city all-star as a Grade 10.
The Wildcats will tip-off their season tonight against Killarney and are loaded with young talent that finish second at last year’s B.C. Junior Boys Championships. The Sharks open play against Windermere and also have some returning key players from last year’s squad that went to the Langley Events Centre.
Boyd is taking on Pinetree and have loads of experience in its line-up after going mainly with Grade 11s a year ago and finishing with a 6-4 record in city play.
The defending city champion Richmond Colts are also part of the Big Ticket tourney and play Lord Byng tonight at Killarney.