It was a weekend’s worth of valuable and experience for the Kwalikum Kondors senior boys team as they took on two powerhouse teams at the G.P. Vanier tournament.
With teams from three different levels of high school basketball (AAAA, AAA and AA) in the event, the Kondors were looking to show what an AA school could do against some of the bigger schools.
After dismantling John Barsby (Nanaimo) 75-46, the Kondors lost two tough games against G.P Vanier from Courtenay (AAAA) and the NDSS Islanders (AAA), still managing a fourth-place finish in the tournament.
“Those we’re two tough teams we played against,” head coach Butch Gayton said. “NDSS is the number one team at the triple-A level on the Island and Vanier is number three at quadruple-A, so they’re two good teams. It was a good challenge for our boys to see how those teams played and we played them very well but just couldn’t pull out a win.”
As of Jan. 11, according to the Sport Victoria rankings, the Kondors were sitting fifth on the Island for AA teams and just outside of the top 10 in the province. It’s something that Gayton knows is a product of how hard his team has worked, but he said he knows that there’s still more to be done between now and the time the North Island tournament.
“We’ve been right there all season so far,” Gayton said. “This team has been playing very well and we’ve been able to compete with some of these schools that have a higher ranking than we do. It’s a nice thing to see happen for us, a great confidence booster when it comes to playing teams in our league.”
The Kondors will look for more of that confidence this week, as they will be taking on the Ballenas Whalers, who are currently ranked fourth on the Island in the AAA division, this Friday night at KSS (tip off at 7 p.m.)
“That’s going to be a fun game for everyone involved,” Gayton said. “A lot of these guys know each other, some of them went to middle school together and now they’re on opposing teams, so it makes it all the more fun for them. These games between KSS and Ballenas are always good, competitive games and we should see more of the same on Friday night.”
With North Islands just a month and a half away, Gayton knows that his team has made great strides through the season so far but is aware that there’s always room for more improvement, which comes with playing these games against top ranked schools on Vancouver Island and in B.C. like Vanier and NDSS.
“Coming off a weekend where we played two top-ranked schools is good,” Gayton said. “Playing against that kind of competition goes a long way in helping us develop as a team and get better. North Islands are coming up and we want to be peaking at the right time, so for us, playing in these type of games before hand are only going to benefit us in the long run.”
Looking to come away with a winning record this weekend, the Ballenas Whalers senior boys basketball team did exactly what they set out to do.
After losing their opening game of the tournament to the Dover Bay Dolphins, the Ballenas Whalers went on to win their next two games, finishing the G.P. Vanier tournament with a 2-1 record, good enough for a 7th place finish out of 12 teams.
“We had a good weekend, improved as we went along,” head coach Kevin McMillen said. “Our goal was to finish with a winning record at this tournament and we did exactly that, so it was nice to see the boys make it happen.”
The Whalers beat the Ladysmith 49ers in their second game by a score of 75-66, then would go on to beat Edward Milne (Victoria) by a final of 70-58.
It was a good tune up for the Whalers, who will now look towards their big rivalry game this Friday night against the Kwalikum Kondors, who were also at the G.P Vanier tournament.
“It should be a fun game, like always,” McMillen said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge of facing KSS. They’ve got a good team this year and they’ve been playing very well, so it should be a lot of fun. We’re hoping for a good turnout from fans on both sides and we’re excited to see what we can do out there.”