Rode: Ballhorn a key player moving forward

As one of the younger teams in the Alberta Colleges Women’s Basketball League it’s been a learning process for the RDC Queens.

But with nine first-year-players and five in their second season, they have the ingredients to put together a solid base moving forward, if not this year, then the next.

One of those key players moving forward will be Katie Ballhorn.

The five-foot-seven guard out of Wetaskiwin has already made an impression on head coach Ken King.

“From what I’ve seen this season, she’s one of the best people to be part of the program ever,” he said. “The way she is with her teammates and the fact she’s a confidence young woman, a strong young woman, I think her attitude and work ethic will allow her to continue to grow and improve. She brings it every day.”

Ballhorn stepped into the starting lineup this year and learned on the go.

“I’ve learned a lot,” she was quick to point out. “The game is so much faster. It was tough at the beginning, but I’ve gained confidence in my game.”

Katie has started in all 12 of the Queens games, averaging 24.7 minutes per game. She’s averaging seven points per game, which is fifth on the team, and five rebounds per start, which is second.

She’s needed to work on the boards as the Queens are one of the shorter teams in the conference.

“I’m not that tall either, but I will play inside when they need me. I think I read the play fairly well, which helps.”

Reading the play and the instinct to be in the right place at the right time are major parts of rebounding as the team’s leading rebounder is five-foot-five Sandre Garcia-Bernal, who is fourth in league rebounds with 10.6 per game.

Garcia-Bernal is one of the premier guards in the ACAC and someone Ballhorn enjoys playing beside.

“Teams put a lot of pressure on us, which is something I’ve had to get used to but with the help of the other girls, and, of course, Sandre who is a big help, it’s been an easier transition.”

Ballhorn comes out of one of the top 3A girls basketball programs in the province.

“I think we’ve won the zone for the past eight years,” she said. “It really helps coming out of a program with a strong coaching staff. With good coaching it builds a strong foundation and helps make the transition (to college) that much easier.”

Katie got into basketball in Grade 1 and joined the Wetaskiwin Club program in Grade 4.

“I love it and played ever since,” she said.

Watching her last year it was obvious she could take the next step, especially with her ability to handle the ball and drive the basket and her work on defence.

“I’ve always been a big driver, it’s a major part of my game … it has been since I can remember,” she said. “And I do love playing defence, just getting a stop that’s what builds offence,” she said.

The Queens have a 2-10 record this season, but have been competitive and showing signs of coming together.

“I think the second half we’ve picked it up,” said Ballhorn. “We’re playing with more confidence and we’re executive our plays and not worrying what will happen next.

“I know myself I’m developing as a player and feel I’m improving each game.”

King agrees.

“I think the way Katie approaches the game and who she is as a person helps her continue to develop,” he said.

Ballhorn is in Education and will be around for at least two seasons.

The Queens are in tough this weekend as they visit the Medicine Hat Rattlers, who are ranked sixth in the country with an 11-2 record, today and Saturday.

It’s a big weekend for the Kings, 5-7, with Medicine Hat at 8-5.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

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