Armada senior girls guard Laurissa Jimmy drives up for two points against Cowichan at the AAA North Island Championships last weekend in Port Alberni. The Armada won 40-25. The Armada took third place at the four-team tourney and have advanced to the AAA Island Championships in Nanaimo this weekend.

Armada senior girls gun for top three at AAA Islands

The Alberni Armada senior girls have set a goal of third place at the AAA Island championships in Nanaimo this weekend.

If the Alberni District Secondary School Armada senior girls are going to advance past the AAA High School Girls’ Island Basketball Championships then it comes down to one important intangible — consistency.

Other teams playing in the Islands include Oak Bay, Claremont, Mount Doug, Stelly’s, Spectrum, GP Vanier and Dover Bay.

The top two teams advance to the AAA BC Championships in March. The third place finisher will qualify to play a challenge match against a Lower Mainland team to advance.

“We’ve beaten most of the teams in the draw and been beaten by them too,” Armada assistant coach Greg Freethy said. “But if we play like we are capable of playing then I think the wildcard spot in third place is a reasonable goal.”

The Armada are coming off a third place win in the four-team North Island Basketball Championship last weekend in Port Alberni. They beat Cowichan 40-25 but were beaten by a well-tuned Vanier 71-56. Vanier placed first and Dover Bay second.

The Armada started sluggishly against Vanier and were down by 10 points for the rest of the game, Freethy said.

“We can’t allow that to happen this weekend because those other teams, particularly the ones from the south, will eat us alive,” he said.

Victoria’s Oak Bay is a perennial powerhouse and is the team to beat, Freethy said. “They’re just a step above. The real question is who is coming in second and third.”

Remove Oak Bay from the mix and the top placings are a toss-up, he said. “We’ve all beaten one another this season. This is the most wide open I’ve seen it in awhile.”

Points will keep the Armada in the game but defense will win it, Freethy said.

“We move the ball well and make the shots but defense has been our strength,” he said. “We’ll need to be tough too because I expect to see a lot of physical play, as well as presses and trapping.”

Senior guard Chelsea McIntosh is still out with a collarbone injury but other than that the roster is firing on all cylinders, Freethy said.

The Armada junior season is over and Freethy has brought up three of their players: Chelsea Charlesworth, McKenna Harding and Shellsea Steed. “They won’t get much playing time but it’s more to expose them to how much bigger, faster and more skilled senior ball is,” Freethy said.

The Armada’s first game is against Claremont on Thursday.

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