Getting younger players some on-court experience is the focus of coach Larry Green and his Parkland Secondary seniors girls basketball team this season.
Following on last year’s performance that saw the squad finish well in AA-league play in the South Island region, Parkland has brought up five Grade 9 players to work alongside six older, more experienced athletes — such as returning Grade 12 player Kristy Gallagher. Gallagher has returned to the Panthers for her senior season and is already showing why she is deserving of some looks by college and university scouts. Green said Gallagher put up 53 points against Mark Isfeld of Courtenay at a recent tournament, against some other top-notch players.
“I’ve had a lot of high-level players [on his teams] in the past,” said the coach, “but none of them were like this kid.”
Many of Green’s players live and breathe basketball, having gone to camp during the summer or playing with club and provincial squads before the start of the school year. With that talent and dedication, Green said it’s the team’s goal once again to make it to the AA Island finals — with the ultimate goal to win their way off the Island and into the provincial tournament.
“We are probably more athletic this year than last,” he added.
To help his girls succeed by the end of the season, Green has them lined up to play in some 30 games. Last year, his team went 18-11. He hopes to match that success, while allowing the younger players to gain the experience needed to build the team for the future.
“Lauren Fanelli and Sara Gibson have been surprises,” Green said. “Honestly, all of the Grade 9 girls … you would not know that they are that young.”
Parkland faces strong competition again this season — from the likes of Pacific Christian School, Lambrick Park and St. Michaels. Green said they will be competitive all year.