After a season that saw them finish with a stellar 23 wins and only seven losses, the Desert Sands Community School Senior Girls basketball team is off to the provincials in Kelowna on March 4, where the squad hopes to continue its winning ways.
Second year player Sarah Onstine, who is in Grade 11, says that the team defeated Barriere to get top spot in their zone, then went off to the Okanagans in Lumby, where they finished third overall; enough to secure them a trip to Kelowna.
It’s been a long season for the team, made up of a dozen girls, most of them in Grades 10 through 12, although Onstine says there are two or three younger players on the squad. They began play in November and had their first tournament at the end of that month, and the pace hasn’t let up since.
“We have two two-hour practices and one or two games per week,” explains Onstine. “From the end of November to the Christmas break we had a tournament every weekend, and then tournaments every weekend from the start of January to mid-February.”
It makes for a lot of travel—their longest journey was to a tournament in North Vancouver—and Onstine admits that she finds herself using the bus rides to get some rest.
“It can be quite difficult to balance everything [schoolwork and basketball]. On top of that, some of us have jobs, too, so we often find ourselves being really tired. To catch up on sleep, a lot of us sleep on the bus.”
Onstine has been working part-time at Hungry Herbie’s in Cache Creek for the past year., and says that while she can’t work most weekdays, she usually works on Sundays. In January she added another item to her workload when she took on a role in the Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society’s spring theatre production; her third role with WRAPS since she made her mark as Diana Barry in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical in 2017.
“Time management is one of my strong suits,” she says with a laugh. She adds that she can’t complain about the amount of travelling. “One of the girls [on the team] comes from Marble Canyon and another comes from Thompson River Estates. And our coach [Roger Hannis] lives in Kamloops.”
Onstine, who did not play for the junior team, says she joined the senior team in her Grade 10 year because there were more chances to learn and improve. “There is so much more opportunity [in seniors] than on the junior team, as well as tournaments and team bonding. You have more fun in juniors, but people in seniors take it way more seriously.”
She hopes to be able to keep playing next year. “I hope I can juggle all my Grade 12 classes and still be on the team.”
Onstine says that the team had a feeling from the start that they could go a long way this season, adding that they had a little incentive from Coach Hannis.
“At the beginning of the year we realized that this was the best we’ve been in a long time and that we had a good chance to go far. To push us even further, coach promised he’d dye his hair if we made the provincials.
“We’re still deciding on the colour, but we’re thinking that it should be blue and yellow to match our jerseys.”
When it came to the tournament in Lumby that would determine whether they made the provincials or not, Onstine says the squad was feeling positive.
“The team we played to get into the provincials is one we’ve beaten before, so we knew we could beat them if we really wanted to. If we’d lost that game we would have had to challenge a team from another area and win that game to make it.”
Looking ahead to Kelowna, Onstine says she’s excited to be going to the provincials, and for more than just the chance to play basketball.
“There’s a banquet that all the teams go to, and there’s always a theme. This year it’s ‘Neon’, and I’m really excited about that.”