When it comes to senior girls basketball in the Victoria area, most opponents tend to buckle when they come up against the Big 2 teams — Oak Bay and Claremont.
But coach Kate Carlson looks forward to tonight’s challenge as her Spectrum Thunder hope to make some noise against the Claremont Spartans in a semifinal of the Lower Vancouver Island Triple-A playoffs. The Thunder earned its way with a resounding 69-26 victory over Belmont on Thursday night.
“No one is going to touch Oak Bay, but I think Claremont is beatable, absolutely,” said Carlson.
“If we play the way we can and at our hardest, I really think we can win.”
The Thunder had plenty of confidence on Thursday, led by Oympia Ruffalo’s 23 points. Taleha Penner added 14 for the victors, who also received a strong game out of point guard Emma Cunningham.
“I think it should be a close game and I’m more than confident that we are capable, if we play to our potential, of giving them a competitive game and winning,” Carlson added of facing Claremont tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Stelly’s.
Stelly’s — 52-29 winners over Mount Douglas on Thursday — will face Oak Bay at 8:15 p.m., on home court. Sophie Blandford had 13 for Stelly’s while Julia Gallant had 13 for Mount Doug.
In Double-A boy’s play, the host Blue Jags defeated Shawnigan 62-50 to open up the South Island tournament at St. Michael’s University School on Thursday afternoon. “Shawnigan is capable, always well prepared and physical,” said SMUS coach Ian Hyde-Lay, whose team was down 20-16 in the second quarter before coming back. “It’s the playoffs and you have to be happy to get a win.
“It gets very tough from here. To win this tournament we’ll probably have to beat Brentwood and Lambrick. But having said that, we can be a tough out, and for one of those two teams to win they have to get through us or each other.”
In the latest provincial rankings, Brentwood is No. 2, SMUS is No. 3 and Lambrick is No. 7, although they were all very recently in the top four.
“It’s shaping up to be a very good tournament. It’s very unusual to find three of the top four teams in the province, not even in a zone tournament, but a sub-zone tournament,” said Hyde-Lay. “So there should be some good basketball this weekend.”
Brentwood defeated Esquimalt, Lambrick dumped Edward Milne 91-49 and Gulf Islands beat Pacific Christian 74-52 on Thursday. In semifinals today, SMUS faces Brentwood at 5:30 followed by Lambrick vs. Gulf Islands.
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