Nanaimo’s high school basketball teams are best on the North Island, no question.
Teams from the Harbour City won all three of the North Island championship tournaments contested this past weekend. The Dover Bay Dolphins won the senior AAA girls’ tournament in north Nanaimo, the Woodlands Eagles senior AA boys won their tourney at Qualicum Beach and the Cedar Spartans senior AA girls won at Mill Bay.
“We were ready to play. When we’re ready to play we’re a pretty good club,” said Walter Fields, coach of the Dolphins. “They played with confidence and actually we won fairly easily.”
Dover beat Ballenas in Saturday’s final, 66-41. Cassandra Knievel had 22 points, Jamie Bassett had 17 and Ashley Korabek scored 14. Each of those three players was selected as a tournament all-star.
Dover advances to this week’s Island championships at Port Alberni, while the Nanaimo District Islanders senior AAA girls, who finished seventh on the weekend, are eliminated from the playoffs.
In senior AA boys’ action, the Woodlands Eagles and the Cedar Spartans both advance to Islands. Nanaimo’s top two senior AA boys’ teams met in the semifinals, with the Eagles beating the Spartans 67-57.
“We already knew we were in the Islands at that point, however, it was super important to get the win [in the final] because of our draw, setting up for Islands,” said Joey Spillman, Eagles coach.
So Woodlands’ 54-44 win over the Highland Raiders the next day was huge. The Eagles had to contend with the Raiders’ tricky defensive scheme.
“We ended up breaking it down. We passed very well and we hit some shots,” Spillman said.
Theo Stewart scored 25 points in the final, Mike Skoropad and Jordan Hansen also reached double digits and Joey Sabo had 10 assists.
The Islands will be held in Ladysmith starting Thursday (Feb. 24). The Cedar Spartans are the North Island’s No. 3 seed; the Barsby Blazers were eliminated on the weekend.
Senior AA girls’ Islands in Victoria this week, meanwhile, will include three Nanaimo teams as the Cedar Spartans, Woodlands Eagles and Wellington Wildcats all made it through.
Cedar beat Woodlands 49-39 in Saturday’s final at Brentwood College. Megan Cawthorne scored a game-high 17 points, Jordan Stotts had 12 and Ksenia Malenica and Katherine Coupland were top scorers for the Eagles.
“It was a very exciting tournament,” said Carl Macdonald, Eagles coach. “Any one of six teams had a great shot of winning it.”
GAME ON … The senior AAA boys' North Island tournament starts Thursday at Wellington Secondary School and the senior A boys' Island championships start Friday at Ucluelet.