With the bravest faces and heaviest of hearts, the Riverside Rapids put everything they had into last week's Telus Classic basketball tournament and came together for a teammate in tough times.
Days after senior Fiona Beales' father died of cancer, the team pushed archrival Brookswood hard before losing 79-67 in the Telus Classic bronze medal match on Saturday at UBC.
As draining as the game can be, it can't overshadow the real trials and tribulations of life, Riverside coach Paul Langford said.
"We had a pretty emotional time with Fiona's dad (Barry) passing away on Wednesday. Fiona missed Wednesday's game but played Thursday and Friday and was there again on Saturday because it would have been what her father wanted."
Barry Beales was a dedicated supporter of the Rapids team, attending every game and virtually every practice, Langford noted. He also had taken a lot of photos of the team over the past few seasons.
"It's tough not seeing him here," the coach said.
"The game isn't that important but it is important as part of getting back doing what makes us feel better. The team is a family and we did what families do, we rallied."
The Rapids put forth a tremendous performance in support of their teammate during the tourney, falling just one point shy of advancing to the championship final for a third straight year.
It also came without the presence of Grade 11 guard Vanessa Gee, who suffered an ankle injury in their 76-67 win over St. Thomas Aquinas on Thursday.
Riverside was edged 53-52 by Handsworth on Friday, despite erasing a seven-point deficit and closing within a point on Beales' layup with nine seconds to play.
She led all shooters with 19 points. A day later, they stayed close to No. 2-rated Brookswood but ran out of gas in the end.
"We were tied after the first quarter and they then went up by eight," recalled Langford. "Our kids played well, with all that had happened and being the 10th game in 10 days, we didn't have anything left to give down the stretch."
Shae Sanchez, the Gr. 8 guard, led Riverside with 20 points, while Dani Antignani and Desha Puri contributed 15 apiece. Beales chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.
The team was back at it yesterday (past The NOW's deadline) against league rival W.J. Mouat. They then head over to Victoria to play in Lambrick Park's Christmas Tournament.
Riverside then prepares for its own Tournament For Emily, the program's well-established fundraiser to fight childhood cancer. In its 12 th year, the tourney continues to attract some of the best squads from B.C. and Alberta - with a lot of the appeal being the cause and the presentation of past tourneys.
Seven of the top-10 AAA teams will be in attendance, joined by Albertan squads from Aden Bowman and Harry Ainlay. No. 2 Brookswood, No. 4 Maple Ridge and No. 5 Handsworth lead a contingent that also includes locally-ranked Riverside (No. 6), No. 10 Terry Fox, No. 13 Gleneagle, honourable mention Centennial, and AA No. 10 Archbishop Carney.
The tournament will be played mostly at Riverside, with games also at Terry Fox and Carney.
. In other Telus Classic action, Archbishop Carney girls were stopped 58-36 by York House, then claimed victory over Rick Hansen due to default. Meanwhile, Centennial was clipped by Argyle 86-24 and West Vancouver 40-19.
In boys basketball Telus Classic action, Archbishop Carney fell 86-49 to No. 3 AAA White Rock Christian Academy, and 67-60 to Pitt Meadows. Port Moody also ran into two tough competitors, getting bumped by Vancouver College 99-54 and Panorama Ridge 67-60.