Emily Kanester drained 26 points as the VSS Panthers grounded the Kalamalka Lakers 76-35 Saturday in the North Zone Senior AA Basketball Championships final in the Panther Pit.
Kanester added seven rebounds, five assists and eight steals, while Brit Walton flushed 17 points and recorded seven boards and Michelle Smith sank 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“We are very proud of the girls winning our fourth Zone championship in seven years,” said Bobby Mitchell, co-coach of the Cats with Lonny Mazaruk. “Our relentless pressure defence wore on Kal, although they played us tough early and worked really hard. We talked about doing our jobs tonight and all the kids came in and did their part helping us open the game up late in the second quarter.”
The Panthers open the Valleys at home Thursday (2 p.m.) against the Valleyview Vikings of Kamloops. Kal plays Princess Margaret Mustangs of Penticton at 3:45 p.m. and Fulton takes on the South Okanagan Hornets of Oliver at 7:15 p.m.
The Maroons earned the third berth in the Valleys by bouncing the Pleasant Valley Saints 62-39.
Amanda Sakamoto rung up 23 points for Fulton, while Karlee Webb netted 18 and Tavia Lochhead pocketed 13. Ty Souque was named the Maroons’ game MVP.
“Ty really gave us a boost with her pressure tonight, but missed lay-ups and inconsistent energy on defence hurt us so we have to get back to where we were, and quickly,” said Fulton head coach Jim Inglis.
In the North Zone senior AA boys playdowns, the Lakers toppled the Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops 65-42 Monday night to earn a backdoor berth and become the first Kal boys team to make it to Valleys (at PVSS) in more than five years.
“Junior call-ups Steve Goebel and Brendan Squair added a missing spark and the rest of the team caught fire in their most complete game of the year,” said Kal coach Rick Serafin, who may wear a pink suit to the Lakers’ Valley opener Thursday night against the Hornets.
Max Wilford supplied 18 points for the Lakers, while Zoro Zhang sank 13 and Alex Steinley, who played a strong all-around game, had 11.
The Saints won the North Zone title under head coach Adrien Lemaire, taking a 65-61 thriller over Fulton Saturday night.
The Saints were up 36-35 at the half and Fulton went ahead 46-45 at the end of three quarters. With the score 61-56 PVSS, Mitchell Rouault hit a three-pointer with 43 seconds left for Fulton. The Maroons fouled to stop the clock and Stephen Ringdal hit both free throws for the Saints.
With about 12 seconds left, Spencer Kaneda stole a PVSS inbound pass and scored a lay-up to put the Maroons within a bucket.
Fulton fouled with seven seconds to play, and after a time-out, Ringdal stepped up to the charity line and drained a pair.
Ringdal rung up 19 points and Trent Anderson had 16 for the Saints, who got strong play on the boards from Anderson and Carston Schlaak, each with 14 rebounds.
Greg Hyde and Ben Olson both fired 19 points for Fulton, with Hyde grabbing 16 rebounds.
Eight teams are playing at PVSS for three berths to the provincials, March 9-12, in Kamloops.
“The Valley is strong this year with three of the top-10 ranked teams in the province,” said Lemaire. “Sa-Hali (Sabres of Kamloops who get an automatic host spot in the provincials) is ranked second, Oliver No. 7 and Fulton eighth.”
Fulton plays Princess Margaret Thursday at 5:15 p.m. and the Saints play Valleyview at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, VSS has qualified for the B.C. Junior Girls Championships, March 10-12, in Abbotsford after finishing second in the Valleys last weekend in Princeton.
VSS bowed 55-43 to No. 3-ranked South Kamloops Titans in the Valley final, a team they had lost soundly to all season.
“Game MVP Jenna Marrion played great defence and was able to hold their best player under her game average,” said Cats’ coach Mike Bertram.
Mary Rice finished with 10 points, while Sage Blundell bagged seven and Karley Fugel registered seven points, seven boards and six blocks. Quinsy Leier added five points and seven boards. Rice and Leier were named Valley all-stars.
“Mary Rice really stepped up and led this team this weekend and easily could have been the tournament MVP,” said Bertram.
The Panthers opened by stuffing the Rutland Voodoos 57-33 with Leier pocketing 19 points and eight boards and game MVP Rice finishing with 13.
In the semifinals, the Cats battled a large fan base cheering for the favoured home side but prevailed 44-26.
“Again the defence was the key. Princeton has two provincial-level players and we held them in check. Karley Fugel and Quinsy Leier did a great job against their 6-foot-3 post not letting her get much going and holding her to 10 points.”
Rice almost had a quadruple-double, scoring 11 points and adding seven rebounds, eight assists and steals. Leier had 13 points and seven boards while game MVP Fugel collected six points and 15 boards.
Fulton finished fourth, going 2-2 with a 50-25 win over the Similkameen Sparks of Keremeos and a 47-38 victory over St. Ann’s Crusaders of Kamloops. Sam Ferreir (18), game MVP Hana Ouchi (14) and Danielle Olson (8) led Fulton past Keremeos.
Ferreir fired 25 points versus the Crusaders, while Ouchi scored 13 and game MVP Olson had four.