Unity Christian’s girls basketball team captured its second medal in its 16 year history, battling to bronze at the 1A girls basketball championships in Duncan last weekend.
The Flames started tournament with a one-sided 70-21 win over Bulkley Valley Christian, with Grade 10 post player Kirsten Kampman pouring in 30 points.
Grade 10 guard Grace VanDenBrink produced 28 in Unity Christian’s next outing, a 79-62 quarter-final win over Pemberton.
Unity Christians’ arch-rivals from Credo Christian waited in the semi-final, jumping out an early 38-13 lead.
When things looked their worst it was Grade 9 sniper Olivia Lounsbury keying the comeback.
Lounsbury drained six three pointers.
Kylie Kampman, a Grade 8 player just called up the big team, chipped in with 17 transition points as the Flames clawed all the way back to force overtime.
But with VanDenBrink and the team’s lone senior, Kim Jongerden, exiting the game with injuries and Unity Christian running into foul trouble, Credo was eventually able to pull away for an 84-78 win, ending the Flames’ provincial championship dream.
“It was a heartbreaking loss but our community was so proud of the girls for coming back from 25 points down,” said Unity Christian coach Mike Campbell. “Our girls never quit and their heart and their drive is amazing.
“With such a young team, experiences like this are going to pay off when we seek to win provincials next year.
“Credo went on to win provincials 71-66 so it hurts a bit that we know we could have won the banner, but this gives us even further motivation for next year.”
Heading into the bronze-medal match, Campbell was concerned his team wouldn’t rebound after such an emotionally-draining loss.
He was shocked at the energy the Flames showed against another rival from Abbotsford Christian School.
Unity Christian came out flying, shooting nine of 11 from three point land and building up a 56-25 half-time lead.
VanDenBrink had 25 points at the break and her team cruised through the second half to an 80-49 win.
Jongerden received the game-star award as she celebrated her final game wearing the blue and orange.
VanDenBrink was named a first-team tournament all-star.
Lounsbury was selected as a second-team all-star and Kampman finished second in tournament scoring, averaging 27 points per game.
“When our Grade 12 captain and top-ranked guard, Chelsea Driesen, tore her acl in the first game of the season, we assumed it would be a rebuilding year,” Campbell said. “While losing in the semis was heartbreaking, a bronze medal exceeded our expectations ten-fold.
“With our youth and speed, we were the talk of the tournament and we can be favourites to win the provincials next year and for the next several years.”