For another year, the Fernie Falcons Senior Girls basketball team has dominated the Kootenay zone and is again off to play in the provincials. Players in Grade 11 and 12 comprise the high school team and have successfully ranked in the top two of their zone for the nine years they have played at their current level. They have also qualified for all but one of the seven provincial championships according to John Mill, coach of the Fernie Falcons Senior Girls basketball team.
“The Falcons have finished first or second in the Kootenay zone for the nine years that they have played at the ‘A’ level. They have qualified for six of the last seven provincial championships, finishing as high as eighth place,” said Mill.
The zone the team plays in is large and has travel times up to seven hours one-way. Their conference consists of six teams, but only a handful attended the zone championships held here in Fernie.
“The Kootenay zone stretches from Elkford to Nakusp, which would be about a 7-hour drive. This year there were six actively competing teams; however only four attended the zone championships in Fernie,” Mill said.
The team has been training since early winter and some have been practicing since mid-fall. The season starts in December, and since they have made it to the provincials, will stretch to Mar. 12, when the provincial championships wrap up in Duncan, B.C.
The team is enthusiastic on their qualification to provincials. The team is rallying together to do their best, even though one of their major point contributors in the early season was involved in a motor vehicle incident.
“The girls are very excited to win the zone. It has been a difficult season, as the team has experienced some serious injuries and had the flu bug run through the group,” said Mill. “Early in January the team was showing promising improvement when one of its leaders, Jamie Ray, was in a life-threatening car accident just outside of Fernie.”
The Fernie Falcons will be playing in a tournament that consists of 16 teams, and is a 14-hour drive from their high school, hosted at the Duncan Christian School. Each team will play one game per day.
The coach is a veteran on the high school basketball court, with over 35 years coaching experience between girls and boys teams.
“I have been coaching Fernie’s Senior Girls team for 26 years and coached various boys teams for 10 years before that,” said Mill.
Mill credits the team’s ability to communicate as their greatest strength, allowing them to work efficiently as a team.
“The team’s greatest strength would be how well they work together as a group on the floor. This is especially evident on defence. Their team defence has been improving consistently throughout the season.”