Oseremen Obetoh takes a jump shot for the Maple Ridge Christian School senior girls’ basketball team.

Oseremen Obetoh takes a jump shot for the Maple Ridge Christian School senior girls’ basketball team.

A first for Maple Ridge Christian Hornets

Scott O’Dell coached boys’ basketball at the K-12 private Christian school for the previous eight years, and this year added a girls' team.

Maple Ridge Christian School, in the nearly 50 years since it opened, had never put a girls’ basketball team on a court before, let alone one at the senior level. And in the team’s inaugural season, the Hornets went on an improbable run and won the Greater Vancouver playoff championship.

Scott O’Dell has coached boys’ basketball at the K-12 private Christian school for the previous eight years.

“I started coaching back when my oldest son was in Grade 5 and coached both of my boys right through their high school years,” O’Dell said. “With both boys now in university and the boys’ basketball program moving along nicely, it seemed natural to start to develop a girls’ program at the school.”

Particularly since his daughter was entering Grade 8.

“Being a small school, sometimes its necessary to combine grades in order to form sports teams. And in the girls first year, this was definitely the case,” O’Dell said.

He hoped to include as many girls as possible the first year and try to develop as much interest as possible.

The decision was made early on to have a senior girls’ team, which would include grades 8-12.

“We soon realized that we had 11 girls who were able to commit to playing basketball: three in Grade 8, three in Grade 9, two in Grade 10, two in Grade 11 and one in Grade 12.

One senior on a senior girls’ team.

“We prepared ourselves for a growing and developing year,” O’Dell said.

However, it wasn’t long before he realized that many of the girls were very athletic, and although most had little basketball experience, their natural abilities and dedication could take them far.

The Hornets entered both the Fraser Valley senior girl’s single-A league, as well as the Greater Vancouver Independent Schools Athletic Association.

“We competed hard in the Fraser Valley league, but the competition was tough,” O’Dell said. “That only made us better.”

The Hornets made it to the Fraser valley championships, but lost to Agassiz in the quarter-finals.

They then moved on to the Greater Vancouver playoffs.

“We finished the season with a perfect 6-0 record, then went on to beat Meadowridge by 25 points in the quarter-finals,” O’Dell said.

The Hornets then knocked off a strong all-Grade 12 team in West Point Grey by four points in the semi-finals.

The girls peaked in the finals, defeating the 10th-ranked single-A team in B.C., King David, by seven points to win the Greater Vancouver championship.

“Bringing home a championship banner in their first year, with almost all of the girls returning next year, the future looks very bright for this young team,” O’Dell said, “and we certainly are setting our goals on competing for a provincial championship next year and years to come.”

The 2015-16 Hornets championship roster: Mariann Madari, Oseremen Obetoh, Julianna Silva, Mikayla Barber, Emily Armbrust, Kendra Marginean, Aimi Shibayama-Tsuchiya, Lorelle Douglas, Jillian O’Dell, Elke Sorensen and Alison Murdoch.

Heather Brown was assistant coach.