The Okanagan Jr. Heat basketball program will feature five teams of various age groups this season, including the U17s of the Prairie Elite Basketball League (PEBL).
There are more than 60 athletes involved from Armstrong, Lumby, Vernon, Kelowna, and Penticton.
“Our U17 PEBL team is a new program launched in August when we identified players,” said Vernon’s Bobby Mitchell, assistant coach. “They will compete as a guest team in the PEBL league in two tourneys in Edmonton and Calgary. This league features teams all connected with a university. This group will also make a trip back to Ontario in July to play some of the top club teams and will wrap up their season in Langley at the National Club Basketball Championships.”
Kelsey Falk of the VSS Panthers is with the U17s who went 3-1 at the Edmonton PEBL tournament last weekend.
Falk pocketed 13 points and five rebounds as the Hrat opened with a 68-46 loss to the Regina Jr. Cougars. Jaeli Ibbetson of KSS Owls supplied 11 points and eight rebounds.
Game 2 Saturday saw Falk flush 20 points and added eight boards as the Heat ransacked the Lethbridge Jr. Horns 59-44.
Ibbetson counted 15 points and seven rebounds, Rylee Seminuk of KSS added seven points and of KSS Jordan Kemper had a team-high 10 rebounds.
In Game 3, Falk and Kemper each delivered 13 points as the Heat dispatched Grant MacEwan of Edmonton 89-47.
“We seemed to get stronger as the day went on and although this was our third game, our depth played a bit part in our ability to play at a high pace all day,” said Mitchell. “This was a great team effort; all 11 players scored and found many ways to contribute.”
Ibbetson drained 30 points and seven rebounds, while Kelsey Falk produced 21 points and six rebounds as the Heat held off the Jr. Huskies of Saskatchewan 87-85 in overtime.
Falk scored a timely basket plus the foul and converted her free throw to cut the Huskie lead to just one point. After trading baskets down the stretch, the Heat had the ball with 13 seconds to go down one.
Showing great composure, Melania Corrado of the Okanagan Mission Huskies fed the ball to Falk who was fouled on her shot attempt and converted just one free throw to force overtime.
The Heat took a quick four-point lead in overtime sparked by the sound play of the Owls’ Rylee Seminuk who got two important defensive rebounds and had an attack that set up Kemper. Up three with 26 seconds to go, the Huskies hit a trey to level things. With no time outs left, Jenna Robinson of OKM and Corrado worked together to get the ball over half under intense pressure and eventually a tie up led to an inbound on the endline.
A perfect lob pass from Kent to Falk, who calmly gathered and finished at the rim, provided the winning bucket. to win the game.
“We were very happy with the weekend and to go 3-1 against very tough teams who are all well coached, our depth, and having a number of girls who can score in any given game, will prove tough for whoever we play in the future,” said Mitchell. “That said, we have a lot of work to do and want to keep improving.”