In the movie A League of Their Own, actor Tom Hanks uttered the famous line, “There’s no crying in baseball!”
At Ballenas Secondary School last Tuesday, the Whalers senior girls basketball team proved that rule does not apply to high school basketball.
Ballenas sent off its three Grade 12 girls with flowers, testimonials and tears in a halftime ceremony before family and friends. They also took home an impressive 68-44 win over Nanaimo District Secondary School.
“It’s so sad,” said Erica Friesen as she joined fellow Grade 12 Kate Reynolds for after-game pizza. “We’re the only two who have played together with (coach Brian) Spray since Grade 9.”
“To see him cry kind of made us well up a little,” Reynolds added.
Reynolds had team highs of 18 points and 18 rebounds. Fellow Grade 12 Makayla Hoey, a standout guard who played up a level above Friesen and Reynolds before they joined her on the senior team, added 17 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Friesen did not score, despite the exhortation of a student rooting section that has made her a crowd favourite. But she did get on the floor for a fourth-quarter curtain call despite a recurring knee injury that will keep her from this week’s North Island tournament at Wellington Secondary School in Nanaimo.
The Whalers are scheduled to open play at 2 p.m. Thursday in the North Island tournament. Ballenas rolled to the No. 1 seed in their division in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season after last year’s Grade 12-dominated squad advanced to the provincial AA championships.
“We didn’t think we were going to be that good, and we turned out, whoo hoo!” said Friesen. “We lost a lot of our members and only had three seniors, so we thought, ‘oh, no, this is gonna be bad.”
But the team rallied with a number of Grade 11 and 10 additions who complemented the season-long, on-court
leadership of Hoey and Reynolds.
“Everyone’s so nice to each other; we’re all best friends,” said Reynolds.
In a recurring trend for the Whalers most of the season, Ballenas got off to a cold shooting start while edging in front 17-13 after one quarter. But it turned to defense to fuel a withering transition attack, and took control by outscoring the Islanders 22-8 in the second quarter and 20-3 in the third.
The Whalers pushed their lead as high as 35 points, at 61-26 early in the fourth quarter.
NDSS rallied late against reserves that included several junior call-ups for the home finale.
Forward Sophie Dugas added 12 points and nine rebounds in the win and Constanze Ehrmeier, an exchange student from Germany, contributed a team-high six steals as Ballenas forced 36 turnovers.
Above, Constanze Ehrmeier of Ballenas goes up for a shot over a pair of Nanaimo District Secondary defenders in Tuesday's senior girls basketball game in Parksville. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
Whalers 68, Islanders 44
NDSS 13 8 3 20—44
Ballenas 17 22 20 9—68
Islanders — Meg Pei Mona 16, Fletcher 7, Olsen 6, Soares 4, Gray 4, Gill 3, Anderson 2, Jung 2.
Whalers — Kate Reynolds 18, Hoey 17, Dugas 12, Greenshields 6, Ehrmeier 5, Becker 4, Elliott 2, Hudson 2, Canil, Friesen, Sundberg-Groot, Mclellan.
Rebounds — NDSS 47 (Gray 10); Ballenas 55 (Reynolds 18). Steals — NDSS 11 (Mona 4); Ballenas 25 (Ehrmeier 6). Blocked shots — NDSS 1 (Pei Mona); Ballenas 3 (Reynolds 2) Turnovers — NDSS 36, Ballenas 22.