A simple, friendly junior basketball rivalry game turned into an epic before a shrieking crowd last Wednesday at Ballenas Secondary School.
Hannah Worthen scored the go-ahead basket with 1:42 left in the second overtime and Catalina Magana added a pair of insurance free throws as the Kwalikum Kondors escaped with a 38-35 win over the host Whalers.
The win evened the series between the teams this season at 1-1, following a 32-29 Ballenas victory in the GP Vanier junior tournament earlier this season. Worthen, Magana and Olivia Williams each scored nine points to pace Kwalikum’s offence.
“We’ve been evenly matched, like, forever,” said Ballenas Grade 10 Libby Elliott, who scored a game-high 11 points.
It doesn’t come more evenly matched than Wednesday’s game. The teams were tied 30-30 after four quarters and remained deadlocked at 34-34 after one, three-minute overtime.
After Elliott made one of two free throws to give the Whalers a 35-34 lead in the second extra period, Magana fired a pass upcourt to Rhiannon Terpstra, who fed a cutting Worthen for what turned out to be the game-winning layup.
“It was really nice because everyone was screening each other,” said Worthen, who was scoreless through three periods before scoring all of her points in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes.
Only one section of the gymnasium bleachers was pulled out for the game, but those seats filled to capacity with a mix of students and parents. Additional spectators stood around the playing court and yelled during the critical late stages as the game’s momentum ebbed and flowed.
“It’s pretty big, because Ballenas is our rival. It’s always nice to play them,” said Terpstra, the Kwalikum guard whose father, Rudy Terpstra, is principal at Ballenas.
And that was not the only case of potentially divided loyalty in the gymnasium during the afternoon. Kwalikum coach Ruth Stefanek is the wife of Larry Stefanek, the Ballenas athletic director.
“The girls were really friendly with each other,” said Ruth Stefanek. “I mean, aggressively competitive; they weren’t that friendly with each other. They know each other and it’s lovely when it’s a close game like this; this is exciting.”
Kwalikum led 9-6 after one quarter but scored just three points in the second as Ballenas moved ahead 14-12 at haltime. The host Whalers used a big push in the third quarter and a fast start in the fourth to craft the game’s largest lead at 28-20 with seven minutes left in regulation.
“I wasn’t panicked, because anything can happen,” said Ruth Stefanek. “Eight points isn’t a lot in basketball.”
Worthen and Williams fuelled a 10-0 Kondors run, capped by Magana’s put-back of an offensive rebound, that gave Kwalikum a 30-28 lead with 1:14 left in regulation. The Whalers’ Jules Clark worked inside for a basket that tied it 30-30 with 1:02 to go, and neither team was able to score again before the final buzzer.
Ballenas jumped ahead 34-30 in the first overtime as Elliott made three of four free throws and Cassidy Kellow added a single.
But the Kwalikum defence allowed no more. Worthen scored with 25.8 seconds to go and, after the Whalers turned it over, Magana found Terpstra for a driving basket with 16.6 seconds left to knot the score at 34 and bring on the second overtime.