Alberni District Secondary School Armada senior girls head coach Greg Freethy has a dilemma that every coach would love to have: a roster full of skilled players ready to hit the floor.
At the ADSS gym, balls were bouncing and shoes were screeching as players performed defensive drills at practice this week.
The team is different this year but similar in depth as it was two years ago.
Stalwarts Katrina Hobbs and Kari-Lea Charlesworth have graduated and are gone. But eight players from last year have returned and four players from junior have moved up. “It’s the same team we had two years ago,” Freethy said. “It’s an excellent core.”
The team finished with a record of 24–17 last year and were 6–2 in league play. And they made it to the Island championships, where they placed seventh.
“We want to improve on that placing, that’s our goal,” Freethy said. “Only the top two teams at the Islands make the provincials; it will be tough but we look forward to the challenge.”
The team is skilled from top to bottom and its core of returning players has been through the wars together. “This level is very competitive and they know what it takes to win,” Freethy said.
The team has five players who are close to six feet tall and can drop anchor in the post. And their smaller players can manoeuvre the ball and score from the perimeter.
“I expect them to consistently work hard and play aggressive defense that we can create offense from,” Freethy said. “This group is never satisfied and that’s a good sign.”
The team plays in the North Island league, which has shrunk from nine teams last year to four teams this season.
In the league, the Armada had some spirited games with GP Vanier last year, and Dover Bay is young but strong. “I don’t know about Cowichan at this point,” Freethy said.
It’s Freethy’s third year of coaching girls’ ball and for the Grade 12 players it will be the last time he coaches them.
“It’s been great watching this group grow as players and as people,” Freethy said. “Some know it’s their last year so they want to go out on top.”