McMath Celebration,photos courtesy of Garrett James/Langley Events Centre

For the first time in school history, a blue banner will hang in the gym at R.A. McMath Secondary.

The Richmond school was down four points with 7:32 to play but did not allow Abbotsford’s M.E.I. Eagles any more field goals – the Eagles managed five made free throws the rest of the way – while the Wildcats’ Marina Radocaj scored seven of her 20 points in the final period for the 51-46 victory in the 2022 BC School Sports 3A Girls Basketball Provincial Tournament which wrapped up on Saturday at Langley Events Centre.

“I am just so proud of the determination and courage that they put in to be as best as they could. We challenged them all year. We didn’t know if we played enough good teams to be good enough when it mattered. I didn’t think we would be battle-tested enough but we came through when we needed to,” said McMath coach Jamie Kippan.

“It is the first blue banner that is going to hang in the gym; the girls are pretty happy about that.”

McMath was up 14 points with 6:56 to play but the Eagles closed on a 14-0 run to send the teams to the locker room locked up at 22. The second half featured nine lead changes but once McMath went up44- 42, the M.E.I. offence – which was missing two key starters who had fouled out – went cold. “(M.E.I.) battled hard and gave us everything we could handle, and we did just enough to hang on in the
end,” Kippan said. “We just did the little things right late in the game when we needed to at the right time to create a little bit of separation.”

The Wildcats were also led by Most Valuable Player Marina Radocaj who had 20 points and 20 rebounds, as well as three steals, three assists and a pair of blocked shots and was named the Player of the Game. The six-foot-two Radocaj – who is in Grade 11 – is equally comfortable playing in the post as she is bringing the ball up as a guard.

“Guts, courage, heart … she is so versatile and can do so much for us. She’s a nightmare to match up against; I wouldn’t want to coach against her because she is so skilled and can do so much,” Kippan said.

Caitlin Kippan, another Grade 11 forward, was second on the team in scoring for McMath with 15 points while guard Kee Hohlweg finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Eagles were led by 11 points apiece from Makenna Reimer and Jazmin Avila while Sidney Giesbrecht chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Both teams were upset winners in their respective semi-final games with No. 4 seed McMath knocking off the top-seeded Burnaby Central Wildcats while the third-seeded Eagles edged the No. 2 Brookswood Bobcats of Langley.