A strong fourth-quarter comeback by the Kwalikum Kondors sank the Ballenas Whalers 64-54, to provide another year of bragging rights in their annual basketball derby held at the Ballenas gym last Tuesday night.
The Whalers hosted the popular exhibition game and had the crowd behind them. They were in control in the first two quarters and led 30-21 at the half, as they dominated the boards and mixed it up with good shots from behind the arch and capitalized on their second chances. But unfortunately they were unable to sustain their strong play down the stretch.
The Kondors, who won the derby last year, relied on their speedy guards, who constantly penetrated deep inside the Whalers defence unimpeded at times to stay withing striking distance.
In the third and fourth quarters, the Kondors came out stronger and outscored the Whalers 18-12 and 25-12, respectively, to turn things around. The Whalers were unable to match the intensity of the Kondors and faltered, committing crucial unforced errors and failing to protect the rim.
The Kondors eventually trimmed the lead to just two and with crucial stoppages in defence, they were able to pull ahead enroute to a 10-point lead.
“We have a habit of giving up three late which defensively it’s not a good thing,” said Kondors head coach Taylor Wilson.
“But the guys battled hard in the second half, driving to the hole, dishing, and getting good looks so it was good.”
Leading the way for the Kondors was Logan Ward, who bounced back strong after struggling in the first half to sink some morale-boosting threes in the next two quarters to tally 16 points. Point guard Nolan Lewis gave the Whalers defence a lot of headachse as he constantly beat his man off the dribble to drive in and score easy baskets, netting 14 points. Centre Wyatt Walker had good looks inside to contribute 14 points.
Ballenas head coach Dave Stockton said the Whalers blew their chances and needed to play with more intensity to be successful.
“Basically they were flat,” said Stockton, who hopes to get the Whalers in peak form as they prepare for the Triple A North Islands, which are two weeks away. “I just hope this is the worst game we’re going to play from now on. We’re going to take in what happened tonight and hopefully we can turn things around. We will chat about winning and losing.”
The Whalers offence was sparked by Chester Garviles off the bench with 15 points, followed by Demar Hohnstein with 13 points
Wilson said he was happy with the way the Kondors executed in the final quarter. He indicated it was a good sign as the Kondors had lost a couple of close games in Double A Conference action. The recent one was an overtime 77-75 loss to Brooks Thunderbirds in Powell River on Jan. 26.
“I have been feeling for awhile we’re starting to get it and it’s just a matter of time,” said Wilson. “I had to be a bit more patient than I thought I would have to be but we’re getting it. The playoffs are in two weeks so it’s the right time.”
The Kondors, who are 2-5 in the Double A Conference, are hosting the North Islands Feb. 14-16 where the top four advance to the Island Championships in Ladysmith.
Ballenas faced a tougher road ahead. They are still winless so far in Triple Conference games and have one more game to play against Alberni Armada, who are also 0-5 so far. The game is going to be in Port Alberni on Tuesday night.
If the Whalers win, the Armada will challenge them for the final spot in the North Islands but it will be played in Ballenas. If they lose, the Whalers will challenge the Armada but the game will be held in Port Alberni.