Vernon Panthers take PIT title
Four games and four wins in 31 hours, including a 61-40 victory over the Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops in Saturday night’s final.
The VSS Panthers certainly closed out the old secondary school gym in style, claiming the 12-team Panther Invitational Classic (PIT) senior girls basketball title.
Tourney MVP-Quinsy Leier supplied 16 points and six rebounds as the No. 4 provincially-ranked AA Cats slammed the Sabres, who are No. 8.
Karley Fugel added 15 points and 10 rebounds and took the Panther Pride award for returning to top form after a knee injury in August.
Tourney Top Defender Sage Blundell sank 10 points for the Panthers. Jenna Marion of VSS was named to the all-star team, while the Most Unselfish Panther was Mary Rice.
“We were very proud of our team as they showed a ton of mental toughness to come out and compete very hard in the fourth game of the weekend against a very good team in Sa-Hali,” said Bobby Mitchell, co-coach with Lonny Mazaruk.
The Panthers went out and pounded the ball inside and established their size early in opening up an early 15-point lead, never letting the Sabres get any closer than that all night.
“As a team, we didn’t talk about it much but this game was more important to all of us as it was the last game played in the VSS gym (with new school set to open) after 40 plus years of basketball,” said Mazaruk. “We really wanted the win, and as coaches, we are so proud of our team who went out there and got the job done. Grade 9 Anna Rice, who was playing up with us on Saturday, scored the last point ever in the gym going 1-for-2 from the foul line late in the game.”
Junior Cats Emma Tetrault, and Kristy Fugel also saw some floor time.
VSS stormed the Immaculata Mustangs of Kelowna 79-34 in the semifinal behind 16 points and 11 rebounds from Jessica Harvey.
Leier drained 11 points and Mary Rice canned nine as the Panthers punished the No. 5 single A Mustangs. Ashtyn McKenzie and Karley Fugel each flushed eight points with Fugel earning a team-high 12 rebounds.
“We were able to handle the pressure of Immaculata and punish them with scores,” aid Mitchell. “Our transition offence was excellent too and we did a good job in our half-court defence. Obviously this was a good test to see if we can handle pressure and we did a good job. We made some mistakes but didn’t turn the ball over for points which was a key for us going into the game against a good pressuring team.”
Meanwhile, the Seaton Sonics went 1-2 at the Okanagan Mission Huskies senior AA boys tournament in Kelowna.
The Sonics finally clicked in their third game, controlling the glass at both ends, and executing on offence as they beat the Kalamalka Lakers 64-57.
Matt McEachran-Law jumpstarted the offence, draining his first four shots and finishing with 20. Liam MacPhee nailed four threes and had 14 points, while Alex Baxter turned in a complete game gem with 18 points, 10 rebounds, while going 7-for-9 from the charity line.
McEachran-Law, Baxter and MacPhee all earned game all-stars.
Sloppy play and poor free throw shooting cost Seaton in their opening 54-45 loss to the host Huskies. McEachran-Law, who logged all but seven of his team’s 120 minutes on the weekend, fired 18 points.
WIth an even smaller bench for Game 2, Seaton lost by 28 to the hot-shooting Similkameen Sparks of Keremeo.
The Sonics entertain the Pleasant Valley Saints tonight in North Zone league action.