The Ballenas Whalers senior girls basketball team are heading back to provincials after a second place finish at the Island tournament in Nanaimo last weekend.
Earning a second straight berth in the provincials came with two straight wins over Lambrick Park and St. Michaels University School (both from Victoria).
The Whalers earned their semi-final win over St. Michaels, who were ranked ahead of the Whalers in the provincial rankings. In the final, the Whalers ran into foul trouble against Pacific Christian School (Victoria), who would go on to beat the Whalers.
“The big win came against St. Mike’s for us,” coach Bryan Spray said. “That game was the one that we had to win to get back to the provincials, so that was the big one for us.”
“It would have been nice to have won the whole tournament, but we ran into foul trouble early on in the game and it’s hard to come back from that when you put yourself in a hole early on in the game.”
The Whalers continued their strong play at the Island tournament, a consistent theme for the senior girls squad all season. They’ll be looking for more of the same consistency at the big dance, which takes place at the Langley Events Centre March 2-5.
With teams still qualifying for the provincial tournament via wild card games, the draw for the tournament took place on Wednesday of this week (results not available at press time) to determine where the Whalers will be ranked.
Regardless of their seeding in the tournament, the Whalers know they’re going to be up against some top-notch competition.
“We’ve seen a few of the top ranked teams this season already,” Spray said. “You can tell the difference between a team like ours, who practises and plays basketball when it’s ‘basketball season’ compared to some of those Lower Mainland teams that play basketball throughout the entire year.”
“They’ve got club teams, along with their school teams, so they get lots of practice time in with each other and play a lot of games with each other too. It definitely shows in their chemistry on the court but we’ve got ourselves a hard-working group of girls that doesn’t quit and having that kind of attitude is something that you can’t really coach.”
Another valuable skill set the Whalers senior girls team possesses comes on the defensive end of the floor. Defense has been the Whalers strong point all season and once again was a catalyst for the Whalers in the Island tournament.
“Our defense was huge for us against St. Michael’s,” Spray said. “We played excellent on defense and held them where we needed to.”
“Good team defense is what wins those games that are really close, so we’re very happy with the effort we’ve had against all the teams we’ve played this season. That hard work and determination is what really makes the motor on defence run and these girls are pretty good with that.”