Kwalikum Secondary School’s senior girls basketball team is through to the Island finals for the second straight year thanks to a thrilling overtime win on home court Saturday morning.
In action at ‘the Nest as hosts of the BC High School AA Sr. Girls North Island finals, the Kondors opened the tourney last Thursday and put themselves in a position to advance with a solid 51-39 win over the NDSS Islanders.
Kwalikum led 11-5 after the first quarter and 29-8 at the half. NDSS battled back in the third to cut it to 39-28, but the Kondors finished them off in the fourth.
Miranda Cuthbertson led the K-birds with a game-high 24 points, and Raini Bevilacqua fed the net for 15 — the two teammates shared player of the game honours.
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for Kwalikum in game two on Friday when they were thumped by the top-seeded Wellington Wildcats. The locals bounced back with their best game of the season Saturday and punched their ticket to the big Island dance with a gritty 57-52 win over the Mark Isfeld Ice in OT.
The Ice led that one 13-8 after the first quarter and 23-18 after two, but the Kondors clawed back to take a 38-34 lead into the final frame. The two teams turned in a terrific 4th quarter and were deadlocked in a 47-47 tie after regulation to force a five-minute overtime period.
“Great team effort,” KSS head coach Barry Bevilacqua said after. “But it was the overtime play of Sara Nishide and Casside Conover who won the game.”
He said both players fed the net for four huge points each when the Ice keyed on Kwalikum’s starters Cuthbertson, Bevilacqua and Freeman down the stretch.
Double and triple teamed, his three starters, said their coach, “just found a way to hit the open (Nishide and Conover) who made their shots count down the stretch … those are the shots we’ve been working on and they delivered; just clutch baskets for sure.”
Tara freeman scored a season-high, game-high, 24 points to earn Player of the Game honours — there were three game stars named in that one: Sarah and Casside earned the other two — and Cuthbertson added 22.
The coach said the team of eight is anchored by three girls that have been playing since Grade 5, along with two other starters with a couple years’ experience, “and then we have three international girls that had never played the game before; so for us to make the islands for the second straight year is a really big feather in their cap.”
In other action, it was an emotional end to the season for the girls from Ballenas who battled hard but came up on the short end of a 36-31 final to the NDSS Islanders.
The eight-team AA Sr. Girls Island Championships runs Thursday through Saturday at Wellington Secondary in Nanaimo with the top two teams advancing to the provincials. The third place team to play a wildcard game against a Mainland team. The K-birds will have their work cut out for them as they will likely open the tournament against No. 2 from the South St. Michael University School Blue Devils, currently ranked fourth in the province.