Richmond trio shine at U13 Club Nationals

RYBL players Marina Radocaj, Caitlin Kippan and Quincy Hind help VK Basketball capture gold

A trio of Richmond standouts helped VK Basketball capture the U13 title at the 2018 bbballnationals — Canada’s club national basketball championships — which wrapped up on Monday at the Langley Events Centre.

VK Basketball capped its run with a 53-44 win over Big Country Basketball in the championship game. 

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For the first 16 minutes, VK coach Maylinn Smith watched her team miss too many easy shots and free throws, while on the defensive side of the floor, her troops were uncharacteristically undisciplined — resulting in a 26-20 deficit.

This was the same team VK defeated 48-33 during round robin play to claim top spot in the pool with Big Country finishing second.

The second half was a different story, however, as VK opened on an 18-2 run and never looked back. And while the final margin of victory was single digits, VK led by as many as 18 points.

“Our team has played a lot of halves like this second half, so it was muscle memory for us just to get back to what we are used to doing,” Smith explained.

Leading the second half charge was Richmond Youth Basketball League (RYBL) product Caitlin Kippan, scoring 14 of her 15 points. 

Her RYBL teammates Marina Radocaj added 14 and was named MVP for VK, while Quincy Hinds earned player-of-the-game honours in an earlier round-robin action.

“We had some kids really step into roles. We watched them grow all summer and we saw them bloom this weekend, which is great to see as a coach,” Smith said.

Back in February, all three Richmond girls helped the RYBL’s U13 Renegades to Basketball B.C.’s Metro League championship. That team was coached by Jamie Kippan and Zoran Radocaj.

The bbballnationals featured 41 teams competing in four girls’ divisions – U13, U15, U17 and Open.

Founded by Anthony Beyrouti in 2016, VK Basketball is a non-profit program, operated through corporate sponsorship, that features girls spring-summer teams ranging from U11 up to U17 and is based out of the Langley Events Centre. 

Marina was aged up in June to play for VK’s U14 team that finished second at the Junior NBA World Championship Canadian Regional Finals in St. Catherine’s, ON. She earned tournament MVP honours. 

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