The No. 10-ranked Vernon Panthers opened the B.C. High School Senior AA Girls Basketball Championships by surprising the seventh-seeded St. Thomas More Knights of Burnaby 65-50 Wednesday night at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).
The Panthers battle the No. 2 Britannia Bruins of Vancouver Thursday night in quarterfinal play. The Bruins opened the Sweet 16 with a 75-31 ambushing of the Mark Isfeld Ice of Courtenay.
VSS used a 12-point run early in the second quarter to pull away from the Knights. Kelsey Falk, who finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, went 3-for-4 from the charity stripe in the first quarter and nailed nine points in the fourth quarter.
Game star Mackenzie Horst flushed 15 points and pocketed 14 boards, while Ashley Budgen canned 17 points and 10 rebounds.
“After getting out to an early six-point lead, the game remained close until late in the third when we were able to get the lead to double digits,” said Panther head coach Lonny Mazurak, assisted by Dave Tetreault. “We continued to build the lead, getting it to 26 points and never looked back. Good execution on offence and even better execution on defence were keys to victory. Coach T emphasized blocking out the larger Knight squad which happened as we outrebounded them 63 – 36.”
The AA draw of the tournament saw seven of the eight top seeds advance to the quarterfinals. The top-ranked South Kamloops Titans made quick work of No. 16 Selkirk, winning 84-22. The Titans next face the No. 8 Langley Christian Lightning, who edged No. 9 Whistler 59-53.
The other quarterfinal on the top half of the draw features No. 4 Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna and No. 5 St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints of North Vancouver.
St. Thomas More bounced No. 12 St. Michaels University School 67-55 while OKM toppled No. 13 Smithers Griffins 62-37. The bottom half of the draw will No. 3 GW Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack clashes with No. 6 Duchess Park Trojans of Prince George. Graham was an 82-42 winner over No. 14 Little Flower Academy Angels of Vancouver.
Duchess Park brushed off No. 11 Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops 59-32. The quarterfinals begin at 3:30 p.m. at the LEC’s South Court.