The Ballenas Whalers senior girls’ basketball team is having a season to remember.
The girls are heading into the Island AA tournament as the number-one-ranked team from the North Island after they captured the North Island Championship last weekend.
Their quest to earn a berth in the provincials starts Thursday (today) when the Whalers take on Parkland from Victoria. The Whalers went undefeated in league play on their way to the title. The team then followed that up with a strong showing in the North Island tournament where they defeated the Mark Isfeld Ice, who were ranked in the top 10 provincially most of the season, 49–41.
For the Whalers, it was the second time this season they’ve beaten the Ice, which has given Ballenas a 13th overall ranking in B.C. AA Senior Girls basketball. Now they are looking to take the next step to the provincials.
“We’ve been close the last couple of years,” said head coach Daryl Britz. “When this group of seniors was in Grade 10, we lost by two points to make it to provincials and then last season we ended up losing in the game to grab the final spot off the Island to provincials, so we’ve been right there.”
Britz has been coaching some of these girls on this team since they were only eight years old in sports like volleyball and soccer through the community. He’s been with this group of girls for the last three seasons and has seen some amazing strides in their play.
“I remember back to our first game with the seniors on this team when they were in Grade 9. We played Belmont, from Victoria, and got blown out by 50 that game. We looked like we never even touched a basketball in our life,” Britz recalled. “Looking back at that now to where they are today, it’s a completely different team. I don’t have to speak in a normal language to these girls when I’m trying to tell them about weak side defence or playing up and down the line, they get it all and they’ve shown that they can execute it too.”
The squad of 10 players will see five of them graduating after this season. When this season will finish for the Whaler girls is unknown right now. But Britz feels the team is ready to take that step and qualify for the provincials.
“We have a good chance I think. We’ve played some great basketball this season and the girls have improved every game from the start of their season. Beating two top-10-ranked teams three different times shows that we can compete with the big teams,” Britz said. “Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together at the right moments in this Island tournament. It’s not going to be an easy road getting to the provincials, but these girls have shown that it doesn’t matter how tough it is, they’re going to be up to the challenge.”