Basketball players from Ballenas and Kwalikum secondary schools were impressed with the turnout and enthusiam of the crowds at the 63rd Totem Tournament last weekend at Alberni District Secondary School in Port Alberni.
The distribution of the fans, however, left something to be desired.
“We have, like, four people, and they have 400,” Kwalikum forward Allie Proctor said of Thursday’s opening-round matchup with host ADSS. “It’s pretty loud, but it gets your adrenaline going.”
Both the Ballenas and Kwalikum girls wrapped up play with victories Saturday. Ballenas, which entered as the returning Totem champion, finished third with a 64-46 win over Pacific Christian School of Saanich. Two hours earlier, Kwalikum clinched fourth place with a 60-45 win over Belmont Secondary of Victoria.
The Ballenas senior boys also took part, but the young, rebuilding squad finished 0-3 and settled for eighth place following a 58-46 loss to Stelly’s Secondary of Saanichton Saturday afternoon.
The Totem tournament, which featured eight boys and eight girls teams, is something of a throwback to a time when a local game was a community event. The schedule is structured so the host teams play in the prime-time evening games each night, regardless of their placing in the bracket, and the gym fills with not only parents and close friends of the players, but hundreds more from the school and the greater community.
The games also feature cheerleading, dance and drill teams, the school pep band and televised coverage through Shaw TV.
Both the Ballenas and Kwalikum girls were thrown into that maelstrom. Kwalikum drew the Armada girls in Thursday’s opening game, suffering a 38-29 defeat. The Ballenas girls, following an opening-round, 51-25 win over Edward Milne, faced Alberni in Friday night’s semifinals, where their furious late comeback fell just short in a 56-53 loss.
“The girls handled it really well, like (the crowd) wasn’t even there,” said Steve Dorsay, Ballenas girls coach. “The problem for me was my voice; I couldn’t be heard. During the run of play I didn’t even try to say anything, and even during time outs I had to yell to be heard by the girls standing right next to me.”
Sophie Dugas scored 24 points and Amanda Greenshields added 14 as the Ballenas girls overcame a shaky second period to down Pacific Christian in the third-fifth place game at the Alberni Athletic Hall.
Alex Ellison scored a game-high 27 points for the Pacers and joined Dugas on the Totem All-Star team.
Dugas was named to the tournament’s all-star team, along with Charlotte Palmer of Kwalikum, who earned the honour for the second straight year.
Palmer scored a game-high 28 points in the Kondors’ win over Belmont in the fourth-sixth place final as Kwalikum matched its fourth-place showing in last year’s Totem tourney. Many of the current players were back after appearing at Totem for the first time a year earlier.
“It was definitely not as overwhelming as last year,” said Kondors guard Serena Dewal, who scored 17 points in Saturday’s win over Belmont.
“When we came last year we were not experienced in having that many people watching us play,” added Palmer. “It was like an NBA game.”