Whalers win North Island title

Both local high school basketball teams advance to Island championships this weekend

Makayla Hoey goes hard to the hoop in AA North Island Tournament action. The Ballenas Whalers claimed first place in the tournament

Makayla Hoey goes hard to the hoop in AA North Island Tournament action. The Ballenas Whalers claimed first place in the tournament

The AA senior girls North Island tournament has come to a close with both local teams earning their way to the Island tournament this weekend.

Hosted by Kwalikum Secondary School, the North Islands kicked off last Thursday with the Ballenas Whalers and Kwalikum Kondors looking to move onto the Island tournament, which starts this Thursday.

Both the Whalers and Kondors played well throughout, as did the majority of teams, but it was the Whalers who continued their strong play this season to come out on top, while the Kondors finished third.

That means both teams move onto the Island championship.

“It was a good tournament,” Ballenas coach Bryan Spray said. “We could have lost both of our games, that’s how tight these teams are in this league. They never quit, even when they were down on the scoreboard, they never quit.”

“Our defense was what kept us in our games we played and we managed to hold teams down just enough to get back in there and put them away. The girls handled themselves very well and showed a lot of heart not breaking when they were down.”

Earning a bye in the first round of the tournament, the Whalers took on the Wellington Wildcats (Nanaimo) with a spot in the finals on the line.

The Wildcats took a lead on the Whalers, forcing them to come from behind to earn a shot at first place in the tournament. The Whalers did just that, setting up a meeting with the Isfeld Ice (Comox).

“The girls just battled all weekend,” Spray said. “They came to compete and they did that, they never gave up. Even with the score in the other team’s favour, they came out and battled it out.”

“It was satisfying to see them play the way they did, I’m very proud of them. All the games between the top four teams in this tournament were close, nobody had an easy game at all.”

The Whalers were down 56-51 in the fourth quarter to the Ice, who were looking to deal the Whalers their first league loss of the season.

It wasn’t in the cards on this day; however, as the Whalers charged back from behind to close out a first place win by a score of 62-59.

Grade 11 Makayla Hoey once again led the charge for the Whalers on the offensive end, as she’s done much of the season.

Hoey scored 12 of the Whalers 22 points in the fourth quarter, leading the team to victory on her way to earning North Island tournament MVP honours.

“She’s an incredible player,” Spray said. “She’s worked very hard with the game of basketball and it shows. She’s a special athlete and I suspect she’ll be moving onto play basketball at the post-secondary level.”

“She brings the level of play of her teammates to a different level and all the girls on our team work very hard together,” Spray said.

“This is a team that’s very determined and they’ve got a lot of heart. I’m hoping to see that same level of compete at the Islands. Our goal is to not lose until we come across a team that’s better than us, it’ll happen at some point but we’re not going down without giving it a good battle.”