UPDATE: Ramblers move into B.C. tournament final four

With a 56-52 comeback win over the Handsworth Royals on Thursday night, the Maple Ridge Ramblers have won their way into the final four

Rambler Shara Marchand tries to put up a shot against Prince George’s Mavia Nijjer.

With a 56-52 comeback win over the Handsworth Royals on Thursday night, the Maple Ridge Ramblers have won their way into the final four at the girls triple A basketball championships, which are under way at the Langley Events Centre.

They will face the Brookswood Bobcats tonight (Friday) at 6:15 p.m. in the tournament semi-final.

The Ramblers were behind 32-24 at half time. They trimmed that deficit to 42-37 after three quarters, and then completed the comeback.

Their standout forward Kolbie Orum had another huge game, leading the offence with 24 points, and grabbing every loose ball to finish with 26 rebounds.

Guard Shara Marchand also had 10 points.

The Ramblers and Bobcats last met in the Fraser Valley championship, where Maple Ridge came back to win 73-67.

* * *

The Ramblers’ team play was a little clunky, but the Maple Ridge Ramblers opened the girls triple-A basketball provincials with a 74-51 win over the Prince George Polars on Wednesday nightt.

“We had a very rough start,” said Kolbie Orum.

The Ramblers entered the tournament as champions of the tough Fraser Valley region, and are out to prove that their February heroics were no fluke. Orum thought they wanted it too badly.

“The first game is always the most nerve wracking,” said the senior. “Hopefully, we can come back here tomorrow and just play.”

Orum scored 34 points on 14-for-27 shooting, and added 16 rebounds and three blocks. With Devon Cousins also grabbing 10 rebounds, the Ramblers were able to convert a high percentage of their second chances on offence.

Guard Kirby Marchand added 14 points.

The Polars played a tough inside game, and hung with the Ramblers for most of the contest. The score after three quarters was an uncomfortable 50-37. But some key plays in the fourth quarter – a steal and a layup by Kirby Marchand, a three-pointer from 10 feet beyond the arc by her twin sister Shara Marchand, and a few quick putbacks by Orum – let the Polars know there was no comeback in the offing.

Coach Don Herman was happy with his team’s work rate.

“The effort is there, but the 10 days off showed,” he said.

Inaccurate passes, trying to force the ball to players who were covered and other poor decisions gave the Ramblers a stumbling start, said Herman.

Although her point totals were a modest nine points, the coach was happy with the overall play of six-foot-three Grade 10 Jane Grisley.

He was also enthused that injured point guard Kate Head, who is waiting for knee surgery for torn cartilage, was able to put on a brace and spell off the Marchand twins on the perimeter.

“We have really missed her in the development of our team,” lamented the coach, but added her contribution in limited minutes will be important during the B.C. tournament.

With the game out of reach, he was able to get his entire bench into the game.

“We’re going to need to be a lot sharper against Handsworth,” said Herman, referring to their second-round opponent.

That’s a team that handed the Ramblers one of their worst losses of the season, 50-31, in December.

Notable, though was the absence of Orum, who was at a camp with the Canadian under-17 team. With her in the lineup this time, and the offence back in synch, the Ramblers like their chances.

Handsworth won their opening game convincingly, 63-43 over the tough MEI Eagles. However, the Ramblers also plucked the Eagles 73-34 in the Fraser Valley tournament.

The toughest team in the tournament is reigning champion South Kamloops.

Herman said South Kamloops is the tournament favourite, followed by any one of eight teams which could get on a roll and win it all. South Kamloops lived up to their big billing with a 101-18 win over the Mt. Baker Wild to open their tournament.

If the Ramblers can make it to the final, they will play Saturday at 4 p.m.. The bronze medal game will go at noon.

• For tournament information see www.langleyeventscentre.com/aaagirls.

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