Nobody in northern B.C. has beaten the Duchess Park Condors.
The rest of the province is having a tough time with them too.
The Condors junior girls basketball team has won 21 games and lost just two so far this season. One of those setbacks came against the Cedars Christian senior girls, who are favoured to claim a B.C. single-A title in March. The only other defeat the Condors suffered came against the top-rated junior team in the province, the W.J. Mouat Hawks of Abbotsford. The Condors and Hawks clashed in early January in the Lower Mainland and the Hawks battled their way to a 19-point victory.
Most recently, the Condors went a perfect 3-0 at a tournament in Kamloops last weekend. In the event, hosted by Sa-Hali secondary but played at Norkam secondary, they edged the Mount Baker Wild of Cranbrook 40-38 in the final. The Wild went into the game ranked No. 5 in B.C., one spot higher than the Condors.
In their other games in Kamloops, the Condors downed Westsyde of Kamloops 72-11 and defeated Clarence Fulton of Vernon 64-21.
Given the strength of their team, the Duchess girls would love to be a surprise medalist at their provincial championship tournament, March 6-9 in Langley. A medal would be especially sweet considering they weren't even listed as a top-15 club in the pre-season rankings.
"Now that we're in the top six, it shows teams down there that we're in it and we can compete," said Emily Holmes, a Grade 10 point guard for the Condors. "It's exciting to know that we can go down and do well and have a shot at making top-three. It's possible."
The Condors have six players back from last season's zone-champion junior 'A' team and have added four who were on a 2011-12 junior 'B' club that competed at the 'A' level. Two players -- Grade 10 forward Riley Brennan and Grade 9 forward Madison Landry -- bring Team B.C. experience to the Duchess mix. In the Sa-Hali tournament, Landry was selected as the MVP.
Heading into this season, Brennan knew she'd be part of a talented group, but to date, the Condors are surpassing even her expectations.
"I knew that we would be strong but I was surprised at how good our new players are," Brennan said. "They have really contributed a lot to our team and I'm really excited at how well we're doing."
Other players in the Duchess lineup are Grade 10s Shanna Olsen, Kayla Auld, Addison Fawcett and Lydia Myatovic and Grade 9s Marcie Schlick, Nicola Erricson and Hallie Drezet. Schlick, a post player, stands an intimidating six-foot-three.
The Duchess players take their tips from coaches Louise Holmes and Al Erricson.
The Condors will hit the road again at the end of the month, with Kelowna as their destination. When they arrive, they'll gun for gold in a 16-team Immaculata secondary school tournament that will feature Mount Baker and fellow provincial powers Kelowna and St. Thomas More of Burnaby.
In early February, the Condors will be on the court at a PGSS senior girls gathering and will then play in districts and zones, which serve as qualifying events for provincials.
In the eyes of Louise Holmes, this season is all part of a much bigger picture.
"We want to build this group so that, when we're seniors in the next three years, we're hopefully shooting for a provincial banner at [the] double-A [level]," she said.
That sounds great to Brennan, who has grown up listening to cousin Elisha Williams talk about her provincial championship with Duchess Park in 1996.
"I really want a blue banner, just like my cousin, so she doesn't lord it over me anymore," Brennan said with a laugh.