For 16 teams, today will mean the end of a provincial dream.
For 16 others, it's just the beginning.
The provincial AA basketball championships are scheduled to start today and run through Saturday at the Tournament Capital Centre and TRU Gym. There are 16 girls' and 16 boys' teams in the draw, and games will begin at 10 a.m.
The tournament is a bracket, so teams that lose their games today have no chance of winning the title. Eight boys' and eight girls' teams will have their hearts broken in a span of about 10 hours.
"It's provincials," said Sa-Hali Sabres boys assistant coach Nicolas Karpluk, "anything can happen."
The Sabres are the host teams on both sides of the draw.
Sa-Hali's girls are scheduled to play the Vancouver-Windsor Dukes at the TCC at 11:45 a.m. Sa-Hali is the No. 12 seed for the tournament, and will face a major challenge in the Dukes, who are ranked fifth.
"All year, we've been worried about how we perform," said Sabres head coach Jody Vosper at last week's tournament news conference. "There are some keys to success that we need to take care of, and it doesn't matter who we play.
"If we move our feet on defence, we do quite well; if we get into foul trouble, we haven't been successful. When we take care of the ball, we tend to do OK - when we don't, things go south in a hurry."
Sa-Hali's boys also are in tough as the No. 15 seed against No. 2 Mills Bay-Brentwood College, which doesn't have a nickname but has made back-to-back provincial semifinals. In both of those appearances, Brentwood has rolled through the Sabres.
"I think it will be a good game," predicted Sabres centre Ben Phillips.
There doesn't appear to be a clear favourite in the boys' draw, although the Surrey-Holy Cross Crusaders are the No. 1 seed. They'll open against the Prince Rupert-Charles Hays Hurricanes today, 5 p.m., at the TCC.
If Holy Cross wins, it could set up an interesting quarterfinal - the Victoria-St. Michael's Jags were ranked No. 2 for much of the season but had a poor showing at their zone playdown and come in as Vancouver Island's No. 4 seed. If St. Michael's is able to beat the Vancouver-King George Dragons today, 11:45 a.m., at the TCC, it would likely play Holy Cross on Thursday, 1:30 p.m., at the TCC.
On the girls' side, it is all Holy Cross, all the time.
There is no question that the Crusaders are the No. 1 seed, and they did well at provincials in 2012, finishing third with a team featuring only three graduating players.
The Okanagan-champion Vernon Panthers are No. 2, with the North Vancouver-St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints ranked third. Still, coaches are saying that there is one clear favourite (Holy Cross), and about a dozen strong teams.
"We've lost to some very good teams this year," Vosper said. "But I think it's made us stronger. We're ready."
Interestingly, neither of last year's champions is at the tournament.
The Vancouver-Britannia Bruins didn't earn one of five girls' spots out of the Lower Mainland, while the Mission Roadrunners boys failed to capture any of the three berths out of the Fraser Valley.