Powerhouses play part
The Fulton Maroons and VSS Panthers entered the North Zone Senior AA Basketball League playdowns as undefeated, heavy favourites.
Both teams delivered with Dale Olson’s Maroons claiming the boys’ title and the Panthers, coached by Bobby Mitchell and Lonny Mazaruk, taking the girls’ crown.
Fulton stuffed VSS 76-34 in the boys’ final, while VSS iced the Kalamalka Lakers 57-34 in the girls’ championship Saturday night in the Panther Pit.
The Okanagan Valley tournament opens Thursday night at Kelowna Christian School for the boys and George Elliot in Lake Country for the girls. The provincials go March 7-10 in Kamloops.
Mike Rouault drained 25 points for Fulton, while Grade 10 Tye Kitzman added 20. The 7-0 Maroons open with the host Knights.
“The boys are playing well heading into the valleys,” said Olson. “We get South Okanagan (Oliver Hornets) Thursday night. It’s do or die from here on in. I figured as the No. 2 seed, we might get a little easier first-rounder. The parity is amazing this year. Kelowna Christian is pretty good but beatable. Everyone else is very similar.”
Shelby Hartwig pocketed 15 points and 14 rebounds for the 4-4 Panthers, while Chris Inscho added 14. The Cats had just seven players and three were suffering with the flu.
Matt Forsythe pulled down 23 points and a dozen boards, while Mitchell Pepper flushed 19 points and Hartwig earned 21 rebounds in the Panthers’ 79-74 opening win over the Kalamalka Lakers (5-3).
The Lakers outlasted the Seaton Sonics 69-67 in the consolation final. Ty Chippendale and AJ Jhajj sparked the Lakers.
Kuup Peters sank 22 points for the Sonics, while Alex Baxter played sick and had 18.
“No outside shooting cost us,” said Sonic head coach Charlie Law. “We blew a 23-11 first-quarter lead. Kal played spirited ball and battled back whole way.
“Ty Chippendale was clutch for them down the stretch and AJ Jhajj was also solid.”
In the girls’ final, Ashtyn McKenzie provided 16 points and 12 rebounds as the 8-0 Panthers iced the 6-2 Lakers.
Quinsy Leier rung up 12 points and six rebounds for the Cats, while Megan Prentice added nine and both Karley Fugel and Jenna Marion had seven.
“We are very happy to get the win; the girls worked hard to be zone champions,” said Mitchell. “Our defence really stepped up in this game and played very well the entire night. We were proud of the girls for their effort there. Now our focus is on preparing for Valleyview (Vikings of Kamloops) Thursday night.”
Paige Ralston drained 11 points for the Lakers, while Jordan Korol had eight and Ann Stewart sank seven.
“We played a very disciplined VSS team which took advantage of our mistakes,” said Kal head coach Reni Dolcetti. “I was very pleased with our team’s effort from start to finish.”
The No. 3 Lakers will face either sixth-seeded Oliver or No. 7 Pleasant Valley Sinners, depending on who won a Tuesday night wildcard.
In Grade 8 Girls basketball Monday night, VSS defeated the Charles Bloom Timberwolves 53-27 to secure a spot in the North Zone finals next week.
Wynne Kanester poured in 11 points and had four assists and three steals for the Baby Panthers. Brianna Falk recorded 11 points, three assists and three steals, while Reilly Lorenson counted 10 points and three steals.