The Ballenas Whalers senior boys are off to the Island Championships in Nanaimo after finishing fourth at the North Islands this past weekend.
With five of the nine teams able to earn a spot at the Island tournament, the Whalers earned a spot after losing to the Wellington Wildcats (Nanaimo) in the game for third place 56-49.
The Whalers opened their tournament with a big win over Carihi (Campbell River), beating the Tyees 87–51.
Game two for the Whalers was a loss to the NDSS (Nanaimo) Islanders 58-37. In their third game, the Whalers took it to the Alberni Armada, beating them 82-29.
The Ballenas Senior Whalers now head into the Island tournament as the fourth ranked team from the north.
“We’re happy we’re through to the Islands,” head coach Kevin McMillen said. “It was a close one for us against Wellington in that third place game, but unfortunately we just ran out of steam at the end.”
“Our guys had some tired legs but we finished how we wanted to, earning a spot in the Island tournament so overall, we’re happy with the end result.”
For the majority of their season, the Whalers have had a short bench for one reason or another, be it injuries or prior commitments for players. Now the big test comes for the Whalers with their opening game of the Island tournament against the top ranked team from the south in the Mt. Douglas Rams (Victoria).
These two teams played each other earlier this year, with the Whalers beating the Rams in a close game, with both teams playing without key players due to injuries.
“It’ll be an interesting game for sure,” McMillen said. “It’s hard to gauge just how close games really are, especially when at the North Islands we’d win a game by 30 and then lose a game by 20, then we went and won another by 50.”
“You don’t really get a feel for how you actually did, because it’s not like the games were actually that close. But we played Mt. Doug close, even with both of us missing players thanks to injuries, so we’ll see how both teams stack up with a healthy lineup.”
The Whalers hope to have a full slate of players suited up for that opening game as senior Darian Mant will hopefully draw back into the lineup for the Whalers after missing the North Islands.
Regardless, the Whalers will have to continue the strong effort they gave at the North Island tournament, along with a few other key ingredients, to continue on to provincials.
“Defensively I thought we played very well in the North Islands,” McMillen said. “Everyone was engaged on defense, we executed our half court defense quite well.”
“Offensively, we did quite well. We just need to stick with the process, our shot selection could be a little better and being able to really run through our offense is something we didn’t do at times, but overall I thought we did some really good things.”