The Pitt Meadows Marauders hosted the Grade 8 provincial championship over the weekend.
The host boys and girls teams from Pitt were the only local teams in the tournament, and had just one win between them.
The Marauders boys started off with a 64-19 loss to Charles Tupper on Thursday.
Tupper went on to the championship game, which they lost to Burnaby South by a score of 64-53.
Pitt lost to Gordon Head 48-36, Shuswap 47-37 and Prince Rupert 41-20, and finished in 16th place.
The Pitt girls had one win in four outings. They lost to Vancouver’s Little Flower Academy 67-13 to open the tournament.
Again, the high-seeded Flowers went on to the tournament championship, where they lost 67-40 to Walnut Grove.
Lord Tweedsmuir beat Pitt 44-15 in the second round, but in the third round the Marauders girls had a close 46-44 loss to Dr. Knox.
They finally got the first win by a local team on Saturday morning when they beat Smithers 34-32
“Basketball in Pitt Meadows isn’t what it used to be,” observed coach Rich Goulet, who heads up the basketball program at Pitt Meadows.
He said local athletes in this former hoops hotbed now divide their attention between hockey, soccer and field lacrosse, as well as baseball and basketball.
“You’re fighting all these other things that kids are doing.”
He agrees that basketball is on the rise in Canada overall, but cold-weather provinces don’t have to compete for players with soccer, as B.C. does.
He added that local elementary school students are arriving in Grade 8 without the foundation of basketball skills that they had in past years. They aren’t getting enough exposure to the sport in elementary school, and fewer are attending the Steve Nash programs.
Looking back on 50 years of basketball, Goulet says 1989, when Pitt Meadows faced Maple Ridge secondary in the provincial championship, was the pinnacle of the sport locally, and it has been in decline since.
His senior Marauders have qualified for the provincial championships in 10 of the last 11 seasons, but next year they will need to reload, and will compete at the AAA level, according to school population, rather than at the elite AAAA.