Ryan Broekhuizen can vividly recall the last time the Alberni Armada had captured a major girls’ basketball championship.
A senior girls’ squad representing Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS), captured the Vancouver Island championship way back in 1987.
“It was 35 years ago,” Broekhuizen said. “I graduated from high school that year.”
Fast forward to 2022 and Broekhuizen, an ADSS alumnus, is now the head coach of the Armada, a squad that features his daughter Jordyn as its star point guard and top point-getter.
The Broekhuizen-coached club also managed to win its Vancouver Island championship last weekend.
The ADSS team easily defeated Stelly’s Stingers, a club based in Saanichton, 57-36 in the gold-medal contest, staged last Saturday in Victoria.
By winning the tournament, the Armada qualified for the 16-team provincial AAA tournament, which begins March 2 at the Langley Events Centre.
ADSS’s 12-player roster includes five Nuu-chah-nulth players. They are Jenelle Johnson-Sabbas and Natalie Clappis, who are members of Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Jennifer Dick and Neve Watts of Tseshaht First Nation and Brandi Lucas, who has Tseshaht and Hesquiaht First Nation ancestry.
The team’s assistant coach Dennis Bill is also Indigenous. Bill is a Tseshaht member.
Several days after winning their Island title, Broekhuizen said his charges are still rather excited about their accomplishment.
“They feel like celebrities right now,” he said, adding basketball is a huge deal in their community of Port Alberni. “I told them to enjoy every single second.”
The Armada are sporting an impressive 20-2 record heading into their provincial tournament.
“Our goal was definitely going to the provincials this season,” Broekhuizen said. “We literally dominated our way through the Island tournament.”
The Armada kicked off that event by thumping the Parskville-based Ballenas Whalers 63-17 in its opening match. The ADSS club then advanced to the championship final with a 50-37 triumph against the Carihi Tyees, who are from Campbell River, in its semi-final outing.
The Armada entered the Vancouver Island event as the top-ranked team from the northern portion of the island. The Stingers were the Number 1 seed from the south.
The only two losses the ADSS squad have suffered this season were against AAAA teams, representing schools with a higher enrolment.
Those that are grouped into the AAA category are schools that have between 163-262 girls in Grades 11 and 12.
AAAA clubs are those that have more than 263 girls in the two senior grades at their school.
BC School Sports, the governing body for secondary school athletics in the province, also has both AA and A categories for senior girls’ basketball entrants.
The A division is for those schools that have 78 or fewer girls in Grades 11 and 12. And AA is for those who have between 79 and 162 girls in those grades.
Seedings for the provincial AAA tournament were set earlier this week. The Armada is ranked 11th and will square off against sixth-seeded Sa-Hali Secondary School from Kamloops in its opening match.
“Our first game is a big one,” Broekhuizen said. “And I think it’s a winnable one.”
The B.C. tourney will feature a double-knockout format, meaning teams will have to lose two games before they are eliminated from further action.
The ADSS club would need to pull off some upsets in order to return home with some hardware from the provincial tourney.
That’s because some of the other entrants are considered powerhouses at the B.C. tournament, which runs until March 5.
“What I’ve been told is the top four teams are very strong,” Broekhuizen said. “We might be reaching to get a medal. But you never know. It’s one game. It’s not a seven-game series.”
Besides Jordyn Broekhuizen and the five Nuu-chah-nulth players, the other members of the Armada roster are Hannah Rust, Olivia Warman, Linneah Hobbes, Beth Bexson, Brynn Geddes and Jaime Langlois.
While there was the lengthy gap of 35 years between championships for the ADSS senior girls’ teams, the school did have another Island championship squad between there.
But that feat was also accomplished many years ago. In fact, a quarter century ago. It was back in 1997 that the ADSS senior boys’ hoops squad last won its Island title.