Vernon Panthers defenders Bradley Hladik (left), Owen Miller (30) and Colton Schaper-Kotter triple team SouthKam Titans centre Ripley Martin during the Okanagan Valley AAA Boys Basketball final Saturday at the Panther Pit. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Maroons move to B.C. finals

Second Okanagan Valley seed

The Fulton Maroons have earned a berth in the B.C. High School Boys AA Basketball Championships in Langley next month.

The Maroons lost 74-44 to the host Westsyde Whundas Saturday in Kamloops in the final of the Okanagan Valley championship. Both teams qualify for the provincials, March 7-10, at the Langley Events Centre.

“We got in serious foul trouble in a game that had us in the end with 24 personal fouls and them with 11,” said Fulton head coach Dale Olson. “We never really got our flow going. Westsyde is very good; I’m sure they will do well heading into provincials. We won’t know our seeding until after selection next Sunday, but we should be around the seventh seed.”

Caden Doyle pocketed 10 points for the Maroons, while Hunter Krieger pulled down eight points, Ernie Hunter chipped in with seven points and Ike Olson collected eight rebounds.

Fulton advanced to the final with a 74-64 win over Lake Country’s George Elliot Coyotes in a Friday semifinal. Nate Banga led Fulton with 30 points, while Olson had 21 points and nine rebounds, matching his linescore in Fulton’s 73-38 opening-round win over Armstrong’s Pleasant Valley Saints.

Krieger chipped in 16 points and eight boards against the Coyotes and Teigan Derkach hauled down 13 rebounds.

Westsyde advanced to the final with a win over crosstown rivals Sa-Hali Sabres. Banga and Stephane Foster each had nine points in the win over the Saints, who played the Seaton Sonics in the consolation round.

Despite achieving the school’s highest ever standing at a junior boys basketball provincial, and the highest showing for a Vernon school since 1997, the Vernon Panthers entered Tuesday’s final day of the 49th annual B.C. tournament feeling rather low following a 62-57 overtime quarterfinal loss to the No. 3 ranked Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers of Surrey.

After trailing by seven points with under four minutes to play, VSS mounted a comeback that included two three-point shots by Isaiah Ondrik, the final one putting the Cats in the lead by one with 7.9 seconds to play.

However, Tweedsmuir guard Josh Hamulas mounted a last desperation drive to the hoop and was given a questionable foul call that put him to the line with four seconds remaining. After missing the first, he hit the second from the charity stripe to force overtime. Tweedsmuir outscored Vernon 5-0 in extra time.

Point guard Zack Smith led all Vernon scorers with 20, while Ondrik pocketed 18.

“It was unfortunate that we couldn’t hold on to the lead we worked so hard to get,” said VSS head coach Malcolm Reid. “We were one bounce or call away from making the semifinals. Despite the loss, our boys showed that we belonged on the same court with the best in the province all weekend long.”

Tweedsmuir advanced to the championship final Tuesday night after bouncing the Belmont Bulldogs 69-37 of Victoria in semifinal action.

VSS opened the tournament by toppling the Guildford Park Sabres of Surrey 52-36. Ondrik drained 22 points, while Smith collected 14.

In the second round, the Panthers dispatched the highly touted Burnaby South Rebels, who not only won the previous two junior boys championships, but also held the No. 1 ranking for the last month of the regular season. Kevin Morgan drained 19 points and Smith added 14 as the Cats won 55-46.

“This was a big win for us. To be able to knock off a basketball powerhouse like Burnaby South was a huge accomplishment for our program” added Reid.

After losing to Tweedsmuir, the Panthers crushed the second-seeded Sir Charles Tupper Tigers of Vancouver 68-39. Ondrik canned 19 points, while Smith and Morgan each added 15.

The Panthers took on the Seaquam Seahawks of Delta for fifth and sixth Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Panthers lost 73-58 to the South Kamloops Titans in the Okanagan Valley senior AAA boys final Saturday at the Panther (no details available).

VSS led 34-31 at half but unraveled in third quarter, getting outscored 21-4. It was 55-38 Titans after three quarters.

The Panthers dispatched the Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna 75-48 in a Friday night semifinal. Leon Schenker flushed 21 points, while Thomas Hyatt canned a dozen for the Cats. Jaden Parson and Nathan Vasconcelos each counted 10 points. South Kam advances to provincials.

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