Hoop dreams start at elementary school level

We’ll continue our review of the past season by starting with the girls’ basketball playoffs at Nanaimo elementary schools.

As mentioned here last week, basketball at the professional level manages to stay in the sports headlines well into the summer.

The free agency frenzy continued this past week, highlighted by the Houston Rockets signing restricted free agent Jeremy Lin to an offer sheet of $25 million over three years. Although he became an overnight sensation during a run of games back in February, Lin has only made 25 starts, his fame was fleeting and now he’s coming off knee surgery. The Rockets are a wealthy team, but the inflated offer brings new meaning to the term “Linsanity”.

Meanwhile, in the somewhat saner world of local basketball, we’ll continue our review of the past season by starting with the girls’ playoffs in the bantam (born 1998-99) age division in Nanaimo area elementary schools.

Nancy Stern coordinated the league for teams from larger schools with a population of more than 275 students. Post-season playoffs led to a championship title from the squad from Rutherford Elementary. Bringing home the first-place pennant for their school were players Mackenzie Beck, Lauren Benedict, Kenzie Bob, Payton Bray, Jennifer Choi, Julia Clark, Cara Dunlop, Keyana Faber, Nikayla Fleming, Madi Hart, Neda Nateghi, Jessica Ory, Taylor Patenaude, Taylor Skjelstad, Alex Watts, Hope Wilde and Kezia Wright. Coaches for the winning group were Nancy Stern and Gary Gribling.

Runners-up in the final were the Mountain View girls coached by Lenette Zieber and sponsored by Tonia Collins. Team members included Emma Young, Laura Greene, Alexa Bevis, Amy Cooke-Yarborough, Danielle Bordeleau, Taylor Olsen, Megan Epps, Castley Warwick and Lindsay MacDowell.

Pleasant Valley emerged victorious in the consolation final. The team was coached by Donna Gannon and Brian Boas and players on the squad were Hailey Arneson, Mackenzie Boas, Maddie McDonald, Kaesha Milne, Madison Moffatt, Abi O’Neill and Mike Srdic.

A separate league and playoffs were operated for bantam girls’ teams from school enrolling fewer than 275 students. Michael Lundine was the coordinator and he sends word that in the playoff final Davis Road prevailed over Frank J. Ney to take the district title. Doug English and Mike Doyle coached the victorious Davis Road team, consisting of players Gina Cambran, Abby Gait, Madison Doyle, Delaney Hartel, Hannah Ronmark, Olivia Mazurenko, Rachael Minielly, Aurora Breitenstein and Moriah Buffie.

On the runner-up team from Frank J. Ney were players Halle Berry, Trejuanelle Dunbar, Jaidyn Durakovic, Hannah Forster, Caity Hastings, Emily Hoppe, Madison Hoy, Mikayla Kotai, Katelyn Olson and Benett Zawasky. Coaching the team was Wayne Clouthier.

In third place overall came Pauline Haarer Elementary. Mike Lundine provided the coaching for players Sara Strain, Alex Behie, Ocean Chandler-Thornton, Jessica Wilson, Annica Crosby, Moira Greenway, Jessica Johnson, Jenna Falkenberg, O-Lin Metz and Erin O’Sullivan.

In high school ball, the top AAA girls’ team this past season was from Dover Bay Secondary. The Dolphins advanced to the Island Championships in Victoria where they finished in fourth place. At the AA level, the Wellington Wildcats girls’ team went undefeated in league play, won the North Islands, then placed second at the Islands. They then advanced to provincials and finished eighth overall.

Whatever your sport, a reminder in closing to play your hardest, play fair, and show good sportsmanship.

Ian Thorpe writes about sports Saturdays.