Mackenzie Horst of the Vernon Panthers pulls in a loose ball in front of two NorKam Saints at the Valley Senior AA Girls Basketball Championships in Penticton. (Mark Brett/Black Press Sports)

Mackenzie Horst of the Vernon Panthers pulls in a loose ball in front of two NorKam Saints at the Valley Senior AA Girls Basketball Championships in Penticton. (Mark Brett/Black Press Sports)

Panther girls earn B.C. berth

The VSS Panthers are going to provincials for the 14th straight year

The VSS Panthers punched their ticket to the provincials in Langley for the 14th consecutive year by slamming the Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops 75-28 Saturday in the Okanagan Valley Senior AA Girls Basketball Championships in Penticton.

Kelsey Falk pocketed 27 points for the Panthers, while Mackenzie Horst and Callie Bertram each knocked in 16. The Panthers play the third vs fourth game tonight at Princess Margaret Secondary. The top-four teams from the Valleys move to the B.C. Sweet 16, Feb. 28-March 3, at the Langley Events Centre.

“Our guard play was very good this morning as Emilia Durfeld, Callie Bertram, Sarah Crerar, Olivia Sawka and Kelsey Watts did a great job taking care of the ball and executing on offence and minimizing dribble penetration on defence,” said VSS head coach Lonny Mazurak, who is assisted by Dave Tetreault.

The Panthers shelled the NorKam Saints 77-40 to open the eight-team playdowns Thursday before falling 70-45 to the No. 1-provincially ranked SouthKam Saints in Friday’s semifinal.

“SouthKam lived up to their billing as they jumped out to an 18-point lead and never looked back,” said Mazurak. “We worked hard and executed on defense but the Titans shot the ball very well.”

Game star Horst played a physical, aggressive game and paced the Panthers with 14 points.Watts chipped in with 10 points and Sarah Crerar counted eight.

Falk drained 24 points, while Bertram flushed 17 as the Panthers stopped NorKam.

“A sluggish first half allowed the Saints to be within one point early in the third, but once our girls shook off the nerves, they took over all facets of the game,” said Mazurak.

Game star Bertram turned in a dynamic second quarter to keep Vernon in the game while in foul trouble.

“Defensively in the second half we did a better job of limiting their star players’ touches and we settled down on offence and were able to make shots,” added Mazurak.

Meanwhile, the Fulton Maroons mauled the visiting Prince George Polar Bears in exhibition senior AA boys play Friday night on Senior Night.

Ike Olson recorded 19 points, nine steals and seven rebounds for the Maroons, while Nate Banga produced 21 points and seven steals. Caden Doyle and Krieger each pitched in a dozen.