The Kwalikum Kondors senior boys opened their North Islands AA basketball quest on Feb. 15 with a 57-56 overtime win over the Brooks Thunderbirds of Powell River.
It was a crucial victory for the Kondors as it gave them a chance to finish third overall in the five-team tournament, which featured top-seeded Highland of Comox, Timberline of Campbell River, and Ladysmith secondary schools.
But the Kondors’ tournament was extended to Monday evening, Feb. 19, as they faced a challenge game for the fourth and final berth into the Vancouver Island championships.
Nolan Lewis scored the winning layup with time to lift the Kondors, and he led Kwalikum with 19 points. Wyatt Walker scored 11 points and Callum Saremba and Arne Olefs each had 10.
A third-place finish would have secured the Kondors a place in the Vancouver Island championships, to be hosted by St. Michaels University School of Victoria on Feb. 22-24. But in their next game on Feb. 16, the Kondors took on a familiar nemesis, the Highland Raiders.
Head coach Taylor Wilson said the match was poorly officiated and it turned a bit chippy. He said it frustrated the Kondors, who ended up losing 70-52.
To make matters worse for Kwalikum, fifth-seeded Brooks recovered from its first-game loss and went on to upset second-seeded Timberline, 81-67. The win by the Thunderbirds forced another game to be played for third and fourth spot.
In their second encounter, the Kondors just ran out of gas and succumbed to the Thunderbirds, 71-62, to finish in fourth place overall.
“We were trailing by 10 points and we got within five points in the fourth quarter,” said Wilson. “They played a lot more aggressively and took it to us.”
The fourth-place finish means KSS will have to fight to keep its spot in the Island championships, as the team’s position was challenged by Pacific Christian School, the fifth-place finisher in the South Island championships. The teams will play Monday night, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m., at Ladysmith Secondary.
“We still have a chance and Pacific Christian, they’re pretty decent,” Wilson said Friday.
In other North Islands results, the Ballenas Whalers and Kwalikum Kondors senior girls teams were eliminated from the AA tournament held in Comox.