High school basketball season is here.
And what better way to start it here in Parksville Qualicum Beach than with a basketball derby between local rivals Kwalikum Kondors and Ballenas Whalers? The teams met in an exhibition match on Tuesday night, (Nov. 28) at Kwalikum Secondary gym.
It was the Kondors who prevailed in the end, 86-76, as they managed to work around the Whalers defensive full-court press.
Kondors head coach Taylor Wilson was happy with the win but indicated that things did not go according to plan.
“It was hectic,” said Wilson. “We were able to run our offence just three times the whole game. We had a lot of ways to solve the Whalers press but we also turned the ball a lot.”
The Kondors found a way to move the ball forward despite their ballhandlers being cornered at their end by the Whalers pressing defence. They used their height to their advantage, hauling down crucial rebounds offensively and cashing them in for points. They led 26-21 in the first quarter and closed out the half with a 45-40 advantage. They extended their lead to 67-52 in the third and secured the win 86-76.
Simon Mbobela paced the Kondors with his strong inside game, netting 18 points in the first half and adding another 15 points in the scond for a game-high total of 33 points. Centre Carter Hamling had 19 points with Josh Canedo adding 13 points.
Wilson said the game has given him an idea of how his players will perform during the season.
“We played hard the whole game,” said Wilson. “We build some confidence and everybody got in. I found some depth on the bench that I didn’t know I had. So that will be nice to have. I was confident with my top five but I didn’t know where the rest of the minutes are going to come from. They stepped up and surprised me. It was really good.”
Whalers head coach Paul Wright indicated as this was the first game of the season, they were expecting things to be a bit messy and to learn from the experience where they can improve their game.
“It’s a process,” said Wright. “Don’t worry about the score. Just go out, play our way and see how it goes. As the game went on, we settled into our game plan. The biggest we were looking for are turnovers. We had 51 and that was a lot.”
The Whalers were led by Ricardo Casati who netted 22 points, with Mason Fettback adding 20 and Jared Abad contributing 10.
Both the Kondors and Whalers are grouped in the same Tier 2 Northern Vancouver Island League division that features single A, double A and triple A schools.
The Kondors play their first league game at home when they host the Highland Raiders from Comox on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the KSS gym.
The Whalers hit the road to face Campbell River Christian on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m.
Both the Kondors and Whalers will clash again in league play with Ballenas hosting the game on Jan. 9 at 7 p.m.
The Kondors will be hosting the AA North Island Championships, Feb. 12 to Feb. 17.