The result might not have been what they were hoping for, but the Grade 9 girls provincial basketball tournament was a worthwhile trip for the Quamichan Lightning.
“We mostly went for the experience,” said coach Mikaila Cardin, whose team finished 16th at the tournament in Port Moody earlier this month. “The girls played their hardest. It was exciting for everyone.”
While the Mainland teams had playoffs for their berths at provincials, the Island teams attended on an invitation basis. Although Quamichan had won the Mid Island junior B girls tournament hosted by Duncan Christian School last month, that was unrelated to their trip to provincials.
This wasn’t the first trip to provincials for Cardin or assistant coach Crystal Brandt.
“Crystal and I have also been to the same tournament twice each as players when we attended Queen of Angels, so returning as coaches was an amazing opportunity,” Cardin noted.
The Lightning started the season with 12 players, seven of which had never played basketball before. They played games against Queen Margaret’s School, Chemainus Secondary, Queen of Angels, Duncan Christian, Brentwood College School and Shawnigan Lake School before winning the Mid Island tournament at DCS.
“A lot of the coaches, tournament organizers and officials [at provincials] were really amazed that the Island has regular running league play,” Cardin said. “A lot of people knew Victoria and some heard of Nanaimo but they knew very little of the Cowichan Valley so we got a lot of acknowledgment and recognition from that.”
While all the players had important roles, there were a few who stood out among the group, including captain Zoe Johnson — (“She was a standout the whole season,” Cardin said. “She works hard in and out of the gym.”), Margo Blumel (“She’s a natural athlete. She was a real asset for the team and put points on the board.”), and Mya Smith and Kylene Bhopal (“They got lots of points and peaked at provincials.”).
Rounding out the team were assistant captains Ana Martinez-Shaw and Peyton Luxmoore, Grace Ford, Mona Johnston, Alice Francis, Drew Mangmang, Taiya Nowzek and Ashley Poppe. Cardin was assisted in her coaching duties by Crystal Brandt and supported by Quamichan principal Nicole Boucher and athletic director James Cutt.
The team was sponsored by Cobble Hill Country Grocer, Duncan Thrifty Foods and Hidden Valley Processing.