Unity Christian breaks through for 1A basketball title

So close for so many years, the Flames finally won the provincial banner in a tourney they hosted.

After knocking on the door for several seasons, the Unity Christian senior girls basketball team knocked that door off its hinges Saturday to claim the 1A provincial championship.

The Flames entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed in the 16 team field, with only Langley’s Credo Christian ranked ahead of them.

Unity Christian hosted this year’s tourney, with games held at the school and at Abbotsford’s Columbia Bible College.

The Flames opened last Wednesday with a 77-28 win over No. 15 seeded Similkameen (Keremeos).

Grade 10 guard Olivia Lounsbury was selected player of the game with a 16 point effort, including three three-pointers. Grade 9 phenom Kylie Kampman led the Flames with 21 points and the stifling Unity Christian defence held Similkameen without a point for the entire first quarter.

That win catapulted the Flames into a quarter-final matchup with West Point Grey Academy, where Kampman had another huge game with 28 points, leading Unity Christian to a 68-38 win.

The Flames moved on to a much tougher matchup in the semi-final, facing Vancouver’s Mulgrave Titans. Grace Vandenbrink came up big in this one, producing 20 points and an astounding 14 steals.

While Kylie Kampman had a quiet outing, by her standards, with 13 points, her sister Kirsten Kampman collected 18. Lounsbury continued her hot shooting from three point land, draining two more from beyond the arc as part of her 11 points.

Unity Christian expected to meet their arch-rivals from Credo Christian in the final, but those plans were derailed when Kelowna Christian knocked the Kodiaks out in the other semi-final.

The fifth seed coming into the tournament, the Knights promised to be no pushover and led 15-10 after the first quarter. Vandenbrink, with five points, and Kirsten Kampman, also with five, were the only Flames hitting the scoresheet through 10 minutes.

But Unity Christian made some adjustments at the break and locked it down defensively, holding the Knights to 10 total points over the next two quarters. Kirsten Kampman dialed up beast-mode on the boards, pulling down an astonishing 33 rebounds.

The Flames won 60-38.

“The fans from both teams were electric,” said Unity Christian coach Mike Campbell. “850 people attended the final. We had to call plays through hand signals as it was too loud to be heard.”

Unity Christian’s average margin of victory in the tournament was 29 points.

They held opponents to an average of just over 38 points per game.

“We have been close to winning so many times in our 16 year history and this one ended up coming to us with relative ease,” Campbell chuckled.

Kirsten Kampman was named tournament MVP.

Kylie Kampman and Lounsbury were named tourney all-stars.

It’s been a great year for Unity Christian athletics.

The Flames captured the school’s first ever provincial banner last November, winning the 1A senior girls volleyball championships. Several players from that team contributed to the basketball win.

“Winning provincial banners in multiple sports in a single season is a tremendous accomplishment, and we only graduate one Grade 12 player, Charmaine Jongerden,” Campbell noted. “The girls will be clear favourites to repeat as provincial champions next year, but there are always new challengers.

“With our Grade 9 girls team capturing the Fraser Valley Championship and our Grade 7 girls team completing an undefeated season, Unity Christian hopes to stay number in the province for a long time.”

Unity will host the 1A provincial championship again next year.

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