The Credo Christian Kodiaks were involved in a good old-fashioned showdown Saturday in Duncan.
And when the smoke cleared, the Kodiaks came away as queens of B.C. high school senior girls 1A basketball, after knocking off West Vancouver’s Mulgrave Titans in the provincial title game.
The win at Duncan Christian School ended a quarter century-long drought for the Kodiaks.
“It has been 25 years since we earned a provincial banner (1992) and now I have two players (Alisha and Kari Stam) on the team this year, and their mother (Shauna Stam) was on the 1992 (B.C. title-winning) team,” Kodiaks coach Sharon Allison said.
The gold medal contest pitted the top-ranked Titans against the No. 3 Kodiaks, and not much separated the B.C. finalists.
Credo led 36-31 at halftime before Mulgrave stormed back, outscoring the local girls 21-15 in the third stanza to inch ahead 52-51.
But it was all Kodiaks in the final stanza as they pulled away, putting up 21 points to the Titans’ 14 – highlighted by a 9-0 run – to win 72-66.
Provincial tournament MVP Caitlin Sikma racked up 23 points to pace the Kodiaks to victory. Her teammate Sam Leyenhorst was not far behind with 17.
Allison said it was a true team effort.
“Every team and every player on the team is unique – for us, winning was not luck; each player worked hard to achieve her goal,” Allison said.
“Our players never gave up and this was especially evident in the semifinal game against Unity.”
In the aforementioned semifinal versus Chilliwack’s Unity Christian, the teams were tied with 73 points apiece after four quarters of action.
The Kodiaks led by more than 20 points in the first quarter but it slipped away, and they found themselves in overtime against the No. 2 ranked team going into provincials.
Undaunted, the Kodiaks had an 11-5 edge during the overtime session to win 84-78.
“I know it takes talent to win games, but sometimes grit and determination will prevail,” Allison said.
Three Credo scorers eclipsed the 20-point mark during the marathon match against Unity: Leyenhorst (25 points), Alisha Stam (23 points), and Sikma (20 points).
The Kodiaks rolled in their early games, beating Vanderhoof’s Northside Christian 80-38 and Similkameen 95-36.
Allison admits that her young team winning the provincial banner surprised her.
“In the back of my mind, I knew the team wanted it, but with graduating five seniors last year, I truly believed it would be a rebuilding year,” she said.
“I had decided at the beginning of the year not to emphasize every aspect of the game but to work on three things: great defense, strong rebounding, both offensive and defensive, and high percentage shots. I believe we achieved this, and (it) contributed to our success.”
The Kodiaks were plagued with injuries and their senior numbers were down, so they brought up three Grade 10s, one Grade 9 and one Grade 8 to provincials.
The team also had three Grade 12s and a trio of Grade 11s this year.
Camaraderie was also key for the Credo squad, according to Allison.
“The players are very close –– it was sometimes teamwork over talent,” she said.
“Sometimes the players were just as excited to make that phenomenal pass than scoring the basket itself… that showed the integrity of this team.”
Allison said once the Kodiaks came to this mindset, she knew they would be a hard to beat.
“This type of selfless play was the secret of our success,” she added.
Alisha Stam was a first team all-star, scoring an average of 20 points per game, while Sikma earned her MVP status by scoring an average of 19 points per game.
Rebekah Allison, who coach Allison described as a “rebounding machine” –– was the player of the game in the B.C. final.