The Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) senior girls’ Armada basketball team recently returned to Port Alberni after competing in the 2022 BC AAAA senior girls’ provincials in Langley.
In the lead up to their first game at the Langley Events Centre on March 2, assistant captain Jenelle Johnson-Sabbas said her nerves were running high.
Unlike her home gymnasium at ADSS, the basketball court in Langley hosted larger crowds, an announcer’s table, and a big screen TV that broadcasted the game.
While she said the new environment felt “kind of scary” at first, the experience was not only good preparation for her goal to play college basketball, but for the upcoming annual TOTEM tournament being held in Port Alberni March 10 to 12.
“It gives me that extra push,” she said. “There’s lot of great athletes over here that have us working non-stop.”
Johnson-Sabbas’ sister, Natalie Clappis, was unfazed by the change of scenery.
“Anywhere I play basketball is home,” she said.
The ADSS senior girls’ team entered the provincial tournament ranked 11 out of 16 teams. After two wins and two losses, they finished the tournament ranked 13.
“It’s good that we had challenging games,” said Clappis. “And the crowds prepared us for what TOTEM will [bring].”
The team’s first game was against the Sa-Hali Secondary School senior girls’ team, which was ranked fifth. Although ADSS were defeated by a score of 62-68, Assistant Coach Dennis Bill said Armada took their competitors by surprise.
“I kind of got the impression that the team thought they could walk over us – that we were just this little team from Vancouver Island,” said Bill. "I don't think they were quite ready for us. Our team really stepped up and did a great job.”
Because the provincial tournament draws the best teams from around B.C., Bill said that the ADSS team had to “learn to adapt to different ways of playing.”
“We had to learn about composure during the game,” he said. “It was really neat for the players to play in a bigger venue … it was a really, really great experience for them to have.”
As much as Johnson-Sabbas said she was grateful for the opportunity to play in the provincials, she was looking forward to being back on her home court.
“It'll feel good to be back home playing in front of the people that have wanted to watch us since the season started,” she said.
The provincial tournament was a good build up to TOTEM because the Armada senior girls’ team will be playing two of the teams from the provincial championships, Bill said.
“We obviously had some nerves at the beginning of the tournament because we had never really experienced anything like this,” said Bill. “The team was very supportive of each other and they really came together as a team, and I think it brought the team closer together.”