Hard work and dedication paid off for the Ballenas Whalers senior girls basketball team at the AA Provincials in Langley with a seventh place finish topping off a memorable season.
For a team that narrowly missed the provincials last season, the Whalers drew from that experience and were a focused group this season, determined to get over that hump.
All the time and effort led to one of the more memorable senior girls basketball seasons in recent years.
“I’m proud of these girls,” head coach Daryl Britz said. “We definitely showed that we belong there. That was sort of the thing heading in to it, not knowing where we’d sit. But we showed what we’re made of and showed that we belong with the best teams in B.C.”
The Whalers won their first game over Rick Hansen, 71-52, and were up against a tough Immaculata team that they’d faced earlier in the season and wound up pushing them to the limit, losing a close game.
Immaculata would beat the Whalers 71-46, but it wasn’t anything to be ashamed of — Immaculata would go on to win the provincial championship.
“We played them tough,” Britz said. “We beat them in the second and fourth quarters but it was the third quarter that got us. They were a tough team, but there’s a reason they went on to win the tournament.”
That put the Whalers in position to finish fifth to eighth, in the top half. Playing against the number six ranked Seacove Secondary, the Whalers lost 69-63 in a close, hard fought game. That put them up against St. Thomas Aquinas.
“That was a tough loss to Seacove,” Britz said. “We had a tough go with the last two minutes of the game, had a call that really should have went the other way. Even the other coach couldn’t believe it but it was just one of those things.”
The Whalers would go on to beat St. Thomas Aquinas 81-71, finishing in seventh.
“We played very well,” Britz said. “We were competing with teams that were in the top three out there and that really opened a lot of eyes. I’m very proud of the effort from this group of girls, it’s great to see their hard work pay off like this. We had great support from our community, not only our school but the district as a whole, so that was great to see too.”
Grade 12 Chelsea Hoey capped off her final season as a Whaler being named a Second Team Provincial All-Star.
“That was great to see,” Britz said. “Chelsea has been great all the years I’ve been coaching her and she deserved that honour to finish off her career as a Whaler.