Morning Star Staff
Jordyn Cullum forecasted a big basketball season for the VSS Panthers.
The Grade 12 phenom made sure the Cats opened in style Friday by draining 53 points in a pair of VSS victories in the annual PIT Classic.
Cullum, who will play college ball for the UBC Okanagan Heat next year, canned 33 points as VSS ambushed the NorKam Saints 84-53 and then pocketed 20 as the Panthers punished the Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops 70-29.
VSS, who are ranked No. 4 in the province, met the ninth-ranked Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna Saturday afternoon in the unofficial final. There were seven teams in the round-robin.
Cullum earned game MVP as the Cats jumped to a 25-11 first-quarter lead over NorKam. Megan Rouault and Anna Rice each chipped in with 12 points. Jessica Melvin did a lot of the little things to earn the game ball as well.
“It didn’t look like our first game defensively as outside of a couple adjustments, the girls made it very difficult for the Saints to get good looks,” said VSS co-coach Dave Tetrault.
After a sluggish first half versus Westsyde, the Panthers were ignited in the third quarter by game star Kate Macgillivray’s ability to knock down shots and soem tough perimeter defence by Rice, Kristy Fugel and Rouault.
“Turnovers kickstarted our transition offence and led to many easy opportunities,” said co-coach Lonny Mazaruk.
Macgillivray sank 13 points, while Melvin dialed up a dozen and Rice and Rouault each had 10.
OKM opened by icing the Fulton Maroons 59-33 with Andie Kaneda and Nicole Olson each supplying nine points for the Maroons.
The Similkameen Sparks of Keremeos brushed back the Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops 64-29 in other Friday action.
Meanwhile, the VSS senior boys grounded the Princess Margaret Mustangs of Penticton 83-77 in opening-round play Friday in the Rutland Voodoos Invitational.
Down by five points with five minutes to go, the Panthers pulled ahead with excellent defence and timely shooting. They had to make the comeback as leading scorer Ben Hladik, who had 31 points, fouled out.
“Sometimes when your leading scorer fouls out, the rest of the team comes together and that is what happened,” said VSS coach Glenn Garvie. “Bradley Hladik, a Grade 10 forward, had an excellent game pulling down 18 boards.”
In Chilliwack, Dale Olson’s Maroons finished eight in the GW Graham Grizzlies Senior Boys Showcase by stuffing Sa-Hali 65-44 Saturday morning after falling 71-51 to the South Okanagan Hornets of Oliver Friday night.
Kobe Romanovitch rang up 18 points, Noah Alleyne sank 17 and Caden Doyle earned 16 rebounds against the Sabres. Nelson Schier had one monster block and Doyle had five assist.
Alleyne flushed 13 ponts, while Doyle recovered seven rebounds, Greg Geistlinger had two blocks and Bryn Bedard four assists versus the Hornets.
Fulton opened by outlasting the Langley Christian Lightning 56-53 Thursday afternoon.
Alleyne canned 20 points for the Maroons, while Hunter Kreiger filed 14 points and eight rebounds and Ike Olson grabbed seven boards.
The Dellview Raiders of Delta grounded Fulton 72-62 Thursday night. Nathan Banga rang up 16 points for Fulton, who got 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from Alleyne.
The No. 1 Grizzlies faced the No. 9 King George Dragons of Vancouver in Saturday night’s final.
In Grade 8 boys play, Fulton iced the Kalamalka Lakers 74-8 behind 15 points from Levi Lee.
Karan Malhotra recorded 11 points and eight assists, while Markus Liefke added 10 points.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how this team develops over the year,” said Fulton coach Johnal Lee. “It feels like we have something special here with this group of boys.”