Kwalikum Secondary School forward Gabby Oliver, centre, pulls down a rebound between teammate Katie Holmes, left, and Ballenas’s Sophie Dugas during the schools’ senior girls AA basketball game at Ballenas Secondary School Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. — J.R. Rardon photo

Ballenas girls roll past Kwalikum in hoop rivalry

Late charge lifts Whalers to 72-56 win over Kondors

Sophie Dugas scored 29 points and Grade 10 teammate Abigail Becker added 15 points and 20 rebounds as the Ballenas senior girls AA basketball team rode a late charge to a 72-56 win over visiting Kwalikum at Ballenas Secondary Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017.

The host Whalers (4-5) trailed after one period and led by just eight points after Kwalikum’s Gabby Oliver scored on an offensive rebound to make it 55-47 early in the fourth quarter. But Ballenas embarked on a 13-2 run over a four-minute stretch to build their biggest lead of the game, 68-49, with 4:57 left to play.

“That was a very close game,” Ballenas coach Steve Dorsay said. “To win by 16 points, that’s not the way it seemed.”

Dugas, a Grade 12 forward, scored 20 of her game-high 29 points in the second half and added 17 rebounds as the Whalers won the battle of the boards, 65-50. A big reason for the rebounding difference was Becker, a 6-foot-3 centre who blocked three shots and disrupted several more.

“We didn’t shoot well,” Kwalikum coach Barry Bevilaqua said. “We got our shots; we got our looks, and we usually shoot better. Their big girl (Becker) probably had something to do with that. Our girls may have been intimidated a little bit.”

Charlotte Palmer topped the Kondors with 22 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. Oliver contributed 13 points and nine rebounds, and Serena Dewal finished with 10 points.

But Ballenas placed four players in double figures, with Mackenzie Hudson and Jules Clark each scoring 10 points.

The Whalers, who placed seventh in last year’s AA provincial championships, began the season as a team in transition after losing the top two scorers from that team to graduation. Dorsay said the current team is more balanced throughout the lineup.

“The girls are jelling really well; it’s exciting to see,” he said. “We can count on more players to score. And Sophie Dugas has made a huge improvement. The biggest thing is she’s getting the ball now.”

Ballenas scored six quick points to open the game, but went into a swoon over the remainder of the first quarter as Kwalikum pushed ahead and grabbed an 11-9 lead at the end of the period. The Whalers used a couple of big scoring runs, 10-2 and 10-0, in the second quarter to grab a 31-22 halftime lead, but Kwalikim refused to buckle and stayed within five to eight points while outscoring the hosts in the third period.

“They’re a threat,” Dorsay said of the Kondors. “They’re fast, they’re hard-working and I think they shot better than us. The difference in the end, I think, was our girls played great defence. They got a lot of stops.”

Ballenas returns to league play Thursday, Dec. 14, with a 5 p.m. game at Wellington Secondary in Nanaimo. The Whalers wrap up their 2017 schedule with another road game Tuesday, Dec. 19, in Port Alberni.

Ballenas guard Mackenzie Hudson drives into a crowd during the Whalers’ senior girls AA basketball game against Kwalikum at Ballenas Secondary School Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017. — J.R. Rardon photo

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