Ballenas Secondary School’s senior boys basketball team left it all on the court at Cowichan High in Duncan over the weekend, coming up short of grabbing one of the three berths to the AAA provincials.
The Whalers opened the Island Championships last Thursday with a hard-fought 76-64 loss to No. 2 from the South, Oak Bay. The Bays went into the Islands ranked eighth in the province and went on to win the Island title.
Whalers’ standout Dustin Rodriguez did his bit as he poured in a tournament-high 37 points. Liam O’Brien had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Ian Whibley pulled down 15 boards.
Ballenas bounced back Friday with a big 61-51 game two win over the Dover Bay Dolphins, No. 1 out of the north.
“We knew the team had to play with the same intensity they brought against Oak Bay in order to get the win,” Whalers’ assistant coach Tim Bigelow said Sunday, adding the blue and white came out slow on offence. “But Dover could not match up with us on the other side of the ball. The boys were flat out playing the best defense I have ever seen at the high school level.”
O’Brien finished the game with 18 points and 17 boards. Rodriguez had 17 and Towle 12. Whibley had 18 rebounds and Terrek Bryant helped the cause with 13.
In a shocking turn of events, the No. 1 from the South (and ninth in the province) Mt. Doug Rams lost to the No. 3 seed Friday, “which meant we were matched up against our second No. 1 seed in as many games.”
The Whalers gave it everything they had but saw their season come to an end Saturday in an 84-64 loss to the Rams who earned the final berth to the B.C.s.
In that one, Bigelow said “the boys were riding a high and we prepared them well before the game, so they picked up right where they left off against Dover.”
All Rodriguez out of the gate, the senior scored 21 first half points and put the Whalers ahead by 12 in the first five minutes.
The Rams countered and slowed Ballenas’ defence down “by pounding the ball inside to their big post, who played unreal.”
The two teams traded baskets until the Rams picked up the pace.
“The boys were completely drained physically by this point and we knew it would be hard to pull off the upset at the finish.”
“The whole team really came together over the last three weeks in practice and during games,” Bigelow surmised, adding their defensive intensity “improved drastically,” from their first regular season loss to Dover to their upset win over their North Island rivals at the Islands.
“We are super-proud of the boys who did not give up all season. This group of kids exceeded my expectations, placing fifth (at the AAA Island tournament), and the boys really put some fear into the two Island powerhouse basketball schools.
“This year the boys proved that the Ballenas Whalers can still compete with the elite teams in the province,” said Bigelow.