With the basketball season taking flight, the Kwalikum Secondary School junior girls are looking to find some of last year’s success.
Last season, then in Grade 9, this squad was solid all season and capped off a successful run with a trip to the provincials in Richmond.
Friday night saw an exhibition game against the Dover Bay Dolphins, their first test against the AAA team. Dover Bay came away with the 31–14 victory but it was a good introduction to what the junior Kondors are up against this season.
Head coach Ruth Stefanek, who’s been with the girls since their Grade 6 year, is looking forward to another season and the challenges they’re going to face.
“We’ll have some major competition this year, being a smaller school. We have our work cut out playing against some of the bigger schools this year,” Stefanek said.
With just 10 girls, there will be a nice mixture of Grade 9’s coming in for some games with the Grade 10 team throughout the season.
“We don’t have a very big team to begin with so we’ll be rotating some of the Grade 9’s in. We have a lot of girls at the Grade 9 level so we’ll be bringing in a few from time to time.”
Although the junior girls playoffs aren’t until February, Stefanek is more focused on getting there with the group in tact. The regular season starts in a few weeks and with a small roster, staying healthy is a big part of being successful.
“It’s gonna be hard to keep them all healthy and playing, but having the younger group of nine’s will be a big help. That’s going to be our goal though, to make sure everyone is healthy and that they get lots of experience with game time.”
There was a bit of a concern about finding a coach for the Grade 9’s this year but Brian Nikula was able to fill that role for KSS. It’s a move that helps not only the development of the younger players, but gives them a chance to gain more playing time at the nine and 10 level.
Coach Stefanek and the junior Kondor’s will face plenty of tough tests this season but will be ready to meet.
Having this same group over the last five years has helped develop some good chemistry, something they hope to keep going with the next group, too.
“The idea is to have as many girls playing at both the Grade 9 and 10 level. We’ve been very lucky that Brian was able to step up and coach the nine’s this year. We’ve got 15 girls coming in this year for the Grade 9 team so the numbers are there and it’s going to be great for them to get the playing time and be able to call them up throughout the season,” Stefanek said.