For many players on Parkland Secondary School’s senior girls basketball team, this year is their last shot at getting off the Island.
The Panthers wrapped up their home tournament last weekend (results unavailable due to the long weekend deadline) and had placed third in each of two tournaments prior.
Coach Larry Green has been with most of the girls since they were in Grade 9 or 10, trying to build the program back up. He has been working on it for four years and sees great promise for the future of girls basketball at PSS.
“It’s all coming together,” he said. “This school used to be the place to play basketball.”
Dwindling interest and coordinated coaching in recent years saw Parkland’s fortunes change. Green said he and coaches of the boys teams at PSS, are trying to reverse that trend.
“There’s a genuine interest in what we’re doing,” Green said, noting that the PSS basketball community is getting stronger.
The teams might take a year or two more to fully develop, but the interest is there, he said.
Madison Geary, a senior on the girls’ team likes their chances at the South Island finals this weekend (Feb. 15 and 16) at Brentwood Bay College.
“I’ve been working with the coach since I was in Grade 10,” she said after their first game of their home tourney (a 50-32 win over Woodlands of Nanaimo). “He’s been trying to develop the team since then.”
Part of that development includes teaching the girls to play tough defense. Geary spent a lot of time diving on the floor and wrestling the basketball away from her opponents on Feb. 8 and 9.
“This is our best year so far for defense,” she said. “It’s our best year to date.”
Green said the team’s record is 17-9 (recent results not included) and they’ve learned some lessons along the way, playing some tough teams.
“We are tall and we win when we’re healthy,” he said. “We haven’t been out of a game yet.”
He credits hard work and some good talent on his team, notably Grade 11 guard Kristy Gallager. She was an all star at a tourney in Surrey two weekends ago, and prior to that, MVP at an event in Port Alberni. Green said he figures Gallager is going to get plenty of looks from colleges.
With their eyes set to this weekend’s South Island finals, Green said he hopes his team can finish in the top three — and repeat that at the AA Island finals Feb. 22 and 23. The top two go to provincials and third place team plays a challenge game.