They came oh-so close at the AAA Island Basketball Championships, but the season is over for the Alberni District Secondary School Armada senior girls.
The team went 1-2 at the championships in Victoria, and placed fifth after losing their final game 76-72 to rival Dover Bay Dolphins on Saturday.
“We had high expectations so it was a little disappointing,” head coach Greg Freethy said. “But it doesn’t take away from a great season.”
The Armada thought they were on a roll after taking down Spectrum 60-38 in their first game on Friday.
In their second game on Friday though, they ran into juggernaut Oak Bay, who dispatched them 68-35.
Oak Bay pressured Armada ball handlers, pressed them relentlessly on defense and hemmed them in their own end, burning up precious seconds on the clock. “Even when we got down we had to shoot faster than we normally would have,” Freethy said.
The loss set up a Saturday morning match against league rival Dover Bay, who earlier beat Stelly’s 45-42 in overtime.
The Armada beat Dover three times this season but circumstances, skill and luck synergized all at once for Dover, who edged the Armada 76-72.
The Armada was leading the Dolphins 71-67 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Rotating defenses from man-to-man to zones and locking down Dover’s Emily Shires kept the game tilting in the Aramda’s favour.
But the Armada lost five players — four of them starters — to foul trouble, which the Dolphins capitalized on. “We shut down key players but others stepped up for them and they just shot the lights out,” Freethy said. “And they got big points from the 33 fouls shots they made.”
Freethy wondered what could have been if the same team that beat Spectrum played in subsequent games. “If we played like that all weekend then we’d have had a shot at third place.”
The Armada realized they lost more than a game when it was all over. “Six of the girls are graduating and this was it for them,” Freethy said. “There were tears shed.”
The team has been together for four years and played more than 100 games under Freethy. “It’s been a great run,” he said.
The Armada junior girls have docked for the season as well after not advancing at their Island Championships in Courtenay.
The team started well with a 46-35 win over Shawnigan Lake.
But the team subsequently lost to Oak bay and Pacific Christian, thus ending their season.
The Armada senior boys finished for the season as well.
The team was eliminated from the North Island Championships, which were played in Parksville last weekend.
The Armada’s last game was against the Ballenas Whalers, who beat them 91-59.
The game was close at the half but Ballenas pulled away in the end.