Alberni junior girls open North Islands basketball with a win

Alberni’s Jenelle Johnson-Sabbas readies for a shot during the first half of a game on Thursday, Feb. 7. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Alberni’s Olivia Warman passes to a teammate during a Thursday, Feb. 7 game against the Wellington Wildcats. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Alberni’s Emma Gingras collides with a Wellington player during a game on Thursday, Feb. 7. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Alberni’s Jenelle Johnson-Sabbas dribbles around a Wellington defender. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Alberni’s Emma Gingras sinks a shot. ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Alberni’s Rebecca Bingham battles at the front of the net against the Wellington Wildcats on Thursday, Feb. 7. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

The North Island Championships for junior girls basketball opened in Port Alberni on Thursday, Feb. 7, and the host team Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) got off to a good start with a 37-24 win against Nanaimo’s Wellington Wildcats.

It was a “huge win” for ADSS, said Armada head coach Greg Freethy after the game.

Their goal, he added, is to stay in the top three of the standings and earn a place in the Island Championships in Victoria. “Anything can happen after that,” he said.

The Armada played a strong defensive game, holding Wellington to two points for almost two full periods and entering halftime with a 16-7 lead. Freethy said the team “tried something a little bit different” with a box-and-one defense. Four players played zone defense, while Alberni’s Emma Gingras played man-to-man defense in an attempt to shut down Wellington’s top player, Madison Paugh. For the most part, it worked—Paugh was held to 12 points throughout the game.

“We thought it would give us a good chance to try to contain them,” said Freethy. “I think Emma took [Paugh] out of her rhythm a little bit, frustrated her a little bit.”

Gingras led the team in scoring with 12 points, while Jenelle Johnson Sabbas was close behind with 10 points.

After Thursday’s game, the ADSS junior girls improve to 18-2 on the season.

“We’ve had a great season,” said Freethy. “They’re a young team, so it’s been a good learning curve. There’s a very strong core for a junior team here next year. And they’ve been so fun to coach.”

Port Alberni is hosting the North Islands this year, which Freethy said adds a bit of pressure. But the eight teams—ADSS, NDSS, Isfeld, Wellington, Ladysmith, Highland, Vanier and Nanaimo Christian—are all “very even.”

“Anybody can win,” he added.

Because of their win, ADSS will face Mark Isfeld Secondary School on Friday, Feb. 8. Isfeld won its first match against NDSS, 39-33. Freethy said the girls have faced Isfeld twice so far this season and won two “very close matches.”

“It will be good competition tomorrow night,” he promised.

The game starts at 6:30 p.m. at the ADSS gym.

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