The Kwalikum Kondors scored an important 51-48 win over their local rivals, the Ballenas Whalers, to finish third at the North Island AA Senior Girls Basketball Championships held in Ladysmith last week.
The Kondors avenged a league game loss to the Whalers last December and they couldn’t have chosen a better time to do it than at the North Islands. The first quarter was closely contested, with the Whalers taking a 12-11 lead. But in the second quarter, the Kondors went on a 21-7 run and never let up after that.
In the last quarter, the Whalers, who trailed by as much as 15 points, came back strong. They went on a full-court press and were able to gain ground on the Kondors. They had several free throw opportunities but failed to convert them, which Whalers head coach Steve Dorsay said is an area the team needs to improve on.
“Their free throw percentage has increased but still not at the standard to be successful,” said Dorsay. “Those games we’ve lost by seven points we missed around 12 to 14 free throws. I haven’t counted tonight but we’ve probably missed that many again.”
For the Kondors, the difference in this second clash was defence, said coach Barry Bevilacqua.
“Our defence has gotten so much better,” said Bevilacqua. “Our man-to-man defence, the girls are really buying in. We knew we had to key on (Ballenas forward) Sophie Dugas there. She scored 31 points that last game, tonight she scored 12. The girls are really coming together and realizing their potential. The biggest thing is they are trusting their defence.”
Serena Dewal led the Kondors with a game-high 19 points and Charlotte Palmer, who made four big three-pointers, added 15 points.
Grade 12 forward Dugas topped the scoring for the Whalers with a dozen points, with Jules Clark chipping in 10.
Aside from regaining a measure of revenge on their nemesis, the Kondors will be seeded higher than the Whalers when they both advance to the Island Championships that take place in Courtenay this coming weekend.
“Does it really make that big a difference finishing third or fourth when it comes to the Islands?” Bevilacqua asked. “It could. Anything can happen at the Islands.”
This will be the last season both the Kondors and Whalers will be in the same North Island AA league. Next year, the Whalers move up to AAA division.
“That’s probably the last season they’ll ever play against each other because Ballenas will go AAA,” said Bevilacqua. “So it was big for us to win.”
Bevilacqua said that back when he started coaching at Kwalikum, the rivalry between the two schools was very big.
“Over the last little bit, especially the girls, Ballenas have been dominant,” said Bevilacqua. “One girl commented that it has been two-and-a-half years since we’ve beaten Ballenas. Credit to our girls. They really went at it.”
The AA Island Championships will be hosted by Mark Isfeld Secondary from Feb. 15-17. There will be four teams from the South Island and four teams from North Islands.