New tier will benefit city girls basketball teams

McMath earns pre-season No. 1 ranking at 3A level while Steveston-London is No. 10

Just like it did for the boys years earlier, a new tier added by the B.C. Secondary Schools Girls Basketball Association for the 2019-20 season is poised to benefit Richmond teams.

The new tiers, which were finalized earlier this month, are as follows: 4A (263 or more Grade 11-12 female students), 3A (162-262), 2A (79-162) and 1A (7-78).

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Based on these new numbers, Varsity Letters’ Howard Tsumura released his 3A pre-season rankings last week — putting the McMath Wildcats at No. 1 and the Steveston London Sharks at No. 10.

Both teams will have line-ups loaded with returning players. 

The Wildcats advanced to the provincials under the old tiering format with a top six rotation that featured a Grade 11, two Grade 10s and two Grade 8s. The Sharks leaned heavily on a talented Grade 10 core that had won provincials a year earlier.

The new tier means both teams don’t have to worry about defending B.C. champion Semiahmoo in next year’s new Fraser South Zone that will see Richmond, Delta and Surrey schools battling for provincial berths. The Totems are destined for the top 4A tier and are heavily favoured to repeat.

When the B.C. Boys Basketball Association made a similar move six years ago— it paved the way for more Richmond schools to realistically challenge for B.C. berths and beyond. 

Steveston-London, McMath, McNair, Richmond High and MacNeill have all thrived in the 3A tier since. Steveston-London made the provincial final in 2016 and MacNeill reached the final four this past season. Palmer and Cambie have earned 2A provincial berths over that same time span.

No city school is large enough to compete at the 4A tier for boys and girls.

Here is the breakdown of tiering for the 2019-20 senior girls season based on Grade 11 and 12 enrollment numbers released in Feburary by B.C. School Sports:

3A Tier: McMath (246), Steveston-London (245), Richmond High (227), McRoberts (185), Burnett (177).

2A Tier: MacNeill (146), McNair (143), Hugh Boyd (115), Palmer (101), Richmond Christian (91).

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