With their season on the line, Kwalikum Kondors high school senior boys basketball team had to be at their very best at the Double A Island Championships, which they hosted over the weekend.
After dropping their first game against the top-seeded Ladysmith 49ers 81-58 on Friday, the Kondors faced a must-win situation against Brooks Thunderbirds if they wanted to make it to the Island championships in Ladysmith this coming weekend.
The Kondors pulled a big win over the Thunderbirds of Powell River, 67-47 on Saturday, and followed it up with a 57-49 win against Timberline Wolves to finish third in the North Islands.
In the regular season, the Thunderbirds had beaten the Kondors twice, with the last encounter ending in overtime.
“We knew what to expect against the Thunderbirds,” said head coach Taylor Wilson. “The game plan was to get back on defence and make them take tough twos or threes.”
The Kondors, from start to finish, played well defensively and never let up. They led 18-13 in the first quarter and increased the lead to 27-17 at the half. Logan Ward and Braeden Leary sparked the offence, each scoring 13 points in the first two quarters.
In the third quarter, the Thunderbirds applied a full-court press. They began cutting the gap but the Kondors kept their composure and frustrated the attempted rally with key baskets led by Ward, who added 14 more points in the next two quarters for a game-high 27 points. Nolan Lewis, who had 10 points, also made two crucial threes in the last five minutes that completely deflated the Thunderbirds.
“This was the first time all year where we’ve put together 40 minutes of complete basketball and that’s why we came on top,” said Wilson. “They all knew it that if we lose, we’re done.”
With a berth in the Islands secured, the Whalers bench players got more playing time against the Wolves later in the day and pulled an impressive win and the third-place finish.
“It was a great effort by our bench,” said Wilson.
Leary, who played a key role in the win against the Thunderbirds off the bench, led the Kondors against the Wolves with 15 points, with Felix Westermann netting 14 points and Furkan Elcin 11 points.
The top four North Island teams are Ladysmith 49ers, Highland Raiders, Kwalikum Kondors and Timberline Wolves, with all advancing to the Islands.
In other high school action, the Ballenas Whalers senior girls basketball team, which won the Triple A North Islands, vied for a spot in the provincials at the Island championships held at Lambrick Park Secondary over the weekend.
The Whalers opened with 60-36 win against Shawnigan Lake and advanced to the semifinals to take on the host Lambrick Park Lions. They ended up losing 50-39.
The Whalers boys seniors team advanced to the North Islands at Mark Isfeld Secondary over the weekend. The Whalers, who earned their spot in the post-season tournment after an exciting win against the Alberni Armada 79-75, lost their opening game to John Barsby Blazers 93-49.