The basketball season has been officially over for a while, but three local players earned themselves some bonus time on the hardwood as they were down Island recently for the annual Island All Star Senior Classic.
The all star game is open to Grade 12s only and the players are selected by the coaches in their respective leagues.
In the mix at St. Margaret’s school March 31 for what amounted to their high school hoops swan song were Ballenas Secondary School’s Dustin Rodriguez and Matt Vandervelde — both of whom played on the A and B North Island All Star Teams.
Miranda Cuthbertson of the Kwalikum Secondary School Kondors played in the girls ‘game.
According to Tim Bigelow, a KSS grad who just finished his first season helping coach Ballenas’ senior boys team, “the Grade 12 boys and girls played their final games as high school basketball players.”
Miranda was the leading scorer for the North who lost a close one to a strong South Island squad in their all star game.
On the boys side of the draw, according to Bigelow, who coached the North B team, his squad was “severely under-manned and under-sized compared to the south boys.”
The 5’10” Vandervelde, he said, had to play the centre position for most of the game.
“The north boys got no respect from anyone in attendance, but they played with way more heart than their opponents,” said Bigelow.
The North side won the B-side battle 84 – 76 and held a 20-point lead for most of the final quarter.
“I knew he would have to shoot well in order for the boys to pull off the upset.”
Vandervelde ended the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
In the A boys game, Ballenas MVP, Rodriguez, who made the North A Team after averaging an impressive 29.3 points per game in the playoffs for the Whalers, was part of a short-benched and under-sized north team.
The South A Team was made up of players from the three teams that made it to provincials this year as well as a handful of Victoria City All Stars.
“The south side came out far too cocky with a bunch of show boating starting during the warm-ups,” explained Bigelow, adding the north boys “seemed to gel as a team quite quickly and they battled back and forth throughout the first half.”
The north kept on pushing the tempo and held a 12-point lead going into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately the south side came out strong with a line-up including two provincial all stars “who could not be stopped” and rolled to an 81-75 win.
Rodriquez, said Bigelow, did not have his usual 30-point game, however he was recognized by a number of college coaches in attendance as a hustle player who has the speed to compete with anyone at the college level.
“It was a great way for these boys to end their high school careers.”