Ballenas and Kwalikum battle for Isle title

Both the Whalers and Kwalikum will be in action at Wellington Secondary School for the AA senior girls Island tournament, starting Thursday.

Ana Franco goes up for a layup as the Kwalikum Kondors took on the Timberline Wolves during action at the AA North Island tournament. The Kondors are in action tonight

After hosting the North Island tournament last weekend, the Kwalikum Kondors senior girls basketball team is at the Vancouver Island championship tournament in Nanaimo this weekend.

Both the Ballenas Whalers and Kwalikum Kondors will be in action at Wellington Secondary School for the AA senior girls Island tournament, starting Thursday.

The Kondors were close to hosting the Island tournament as well, as the Wellington Wildcats had to win a wild card game to get into the tournament and be able to host.

“We were ready to host it again as backup,” head coach Butch Gayton said. “They (Wellington) were put in a strange spot and had to not only win to get into the Islands, but to host the tournament as well. So we were on standby just in case they weren’t able to advance but now that it’s all been cleared up, we’re ready and raring to go.”

The Kondors finished in third place at the North Island tournament, behind the first-place Whalers and the Isfeld Ice (Comox) who finished in second. It was a tightly contested tournament between the teams from the north, with each of the top four having a shot at winning that tournament.

“The teams are very competitive up here,” Gayton said. “We’ve got some outstanding talent with senior girls basketball across Vancouver Island, so it’s going to be a tough tournament for everyone.”

“We’re hoping that we can put it all together this weekend and surprise a few teams to advance to provincials. That’s basically what it has to be at this kind of a tournament, someone is going to have to pull an upset on a team that’s ranked higher, so we’re hoping that someone is going to be us.”

It’s going to be a battle for the Kondors though, as they’re facing a bit of a flu bug before action kicks off today (Feb. 18).

“We’ve got about four or five girls feeling sick,” Gayton said. “Hopefully we’ll have them ready for action on Thursday evening but we’ll see. It’s just one of those things that you hope doesn’t happen to your team but when it does, you just have to make the most of it.”

“That’s the nice thing about this team, we’re able to slide girls in to fill a spot when someone else goes down and we don’t have to worry about it. They have been that way all season long and I’m expecting much of the same if it’s needed at the Islands.”

With or without those players, the Kondors hope to continue building on their recent play and hope to stay on the winning side of the bracket.

“I thought we played well at the North Islands,” Gayton said. “We’ve been able to work on a few things in practices before our first game on Thursday, so it’s just a matter of getting out there and executing like I know these girls can.”

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