Sure, the big dawgs have to eat.
But the small cats require their odd nibble as well.
The Parkland Panthers hope to get their licks in beginning Thursday as the double-A Island senior girls basketball championship hits the floor at St. Michaels University School.
The eight-team tournament tips off with coach Larry Green’s Panthers facing a tough challenge in top-ranked Wellington at 2 p.m.
“I like where we are, to be honest,” said Green, whose club features tall talents in Jamie Hargreaves, Kate Service and Breanna Clooney, who all stand over six feet. “Every time we play a good team, we seem to step up. I don’t mind being an unknown commodity in all this.”
Parkland’s juggernaut, though, might be Grade 11 guard Kristy Gallagher, who is averaging 34 points per game.
Parkland has run up a 16-8 record and one would have to go back a long way (the 1980s) since a Panthers’ senior team has gone a fair distance.
“I try to be a realist. If the girls are healthy and we play well, anything can happen,” said Green. “Wellington was a perfect example of that last year. I think the team I have is good enough to do that. You need a little luck, but our girls play hard.”
In Wellington they will face talented provincial player Sara Simovic and a high-pressure defence.
The opening game will be followed by Lambrick Park vs. Mark Isfeld at 3:45 p.m., before SMUS takes to its own floor at 5:30 p.m. against Kwalikum. The last matchup of the night features Parksville’s Ballenas against Shawnigan Lake at 7:15.
Semifinals are slated for Friday at 3:45 and 5:30 p.m. and the championship final tips off at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Two teams will advance to provincials in Kamloops, March 6-9, with the third-place team playing a challenge game versus a Lower Mainland team on Monday for an extra berth.
In double-A boys’ play, coach Ian Hyde-Lay’s SMUS Blue Jags are coming off a 58-51 South Island championship win over Lambrick Park and hopes to carry momentum into the Island tournament, which also begins today at Wellington.
The Blue Jags will face Nanaimo in a late 7:15 p.m. game. Wellington gets it started at 2 p.m. vs. Shawnigan, which won the play-in challenge versus Ballenas, 57-54 on Monday. Lambrick faces Woodlands at 3:45 p.m. and Brentwood College draws Mark Isfeld at 5:30 p.m.
Semifinals go Friday at 5:30 and 7:15 p.m., with the title matchup slated for Saturday at 7:15 p.m.
“It’s too close to call,” said Hyde-Lay. “You can’t read anything into past results. Teams have improved significantly. There should be some exciting games.”
Hyde-Lay’s Blue Jags used 14 points from Georgios Ikonomou to win the South crown Saturday after a bad stretch of games in weeks previous in which they had lost five of eight.
“We played rather nicely in the last couple of games, at least defensively,” said Hyde-Lay.
Three teams advance to provincials, also March 6-9 in Kamloops, and a fourth will have a play-in game.
IN THE PAINT: In recent Junior boys’ play, SMUS defeated Oak Bay 55-41 to capture the boys’ title, while Lambrick downed Mt. Doug 58-44 for third. The three advance to Island championship at Vanier Feb. 21-23. In girls’ play, Claremont beat Oak Bay 45-27 in the final, while Pacific Christian defeated Belmont 34-32 for third. All four advance to Islands at Claremont Feb. 21-23.
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