Panthers open with Holy Cross

The VSS Panthers open their annual PIT Classic against the No. 9 Holy Cross Crusaders of Surrey.

Kelsey Falk

The VSS Panthers open their annual PIT Classic Senior Girls Basketball Tournament Friday (10:15 a.m.) against the ninth-ranked Holy Cross Crusaders of Surrey.

The Cats are ranked eighth in the provincial AA poll and their eight-team invitational includes three other top-10 rated schools.

No. 4 Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna meet St. Thomas More Knights of Burnaby at noon, while sixth-ranked Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops take on the Rutland Voodoos at 3:15 p.m.

VSS opened their season by falling 67-58 to Westsyde in Saturday’s final of the NorKam Saints tournament.

Tourney Defensive Player MVP Kelsey Falk, with 36 points, and all-star forward Mackenzie Horst delivered prime-time showings for the Panthers.

VSS stopped the Saints 57-22 in the semifinals behind player of the game Ashley Budgen’s dynamic defence. Falk pocketed 16 points, while Emilia Durfield canned 14.

Falk flushed 30 points and game MVP Sarah Crerar produced 14 as VSS slammed Sa-Hal Sabres of Kamloops 88-22 in their opener.

“It was a good weekend of learning our strengths and weaknesses,” said Dave Tetrault, co-coach alongside Lonny Mazurak. “We have a young group with three Grade 10s and six Grade 11s and one Grade 12. We are looking for Mackenzie to lead this group towards the goal of peaking in late February.”

Budgen, Kelsey Watts and Callie Bertram are the Grade 10s, while Abby Williamson, Crerar, Jessee Harmon, Olivia Sawka, Falk and Durfield are in Grade 11. Horst graduates this year and has signed with the UBCO Heat for next season.

The Panthers go up against St. Thomas More tonight at 6:45 and finish the round-robin format Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Fulton Maroons opened the Jasper Place Rebels tournament Thursday afternoon against North Park Collegiate Trojans of Brantford, Ont. There is a field of 12 teams, including the Kelowna Owls.

Fulton went 1-2 at the GW Graham Grizzlies tourney in Chilliwack last weekend, falling 85-80 to the Rick Hansen Hurricanes of Clearbook in Game 1. Nate Banga dialed up 24 points for the Maroons, while Ike Olson registered 19 points 11 steals and eight rebounds and Caden Doyle kicked in with 10 points and five boards.

Fulton then grounded the Abbotsford Christian Knights before losing 63-61 to the Credo Christian Kodiaks of Langley.

Banga rang up 20 points and four assists in the win, while Doyle posted 16 points and 10 rebounds and Olson had nine points, six assists and nine boards. Nathaniel Foster drained 10 points.

Olson garnered 15 points, 11 rebounds and five steals against the Kodiaks. Banga added 17 points, while Hunter Kreiger sank 10 points.

“Edmonton should be a lot of fun,” said Fulton coach Dale Olson.”It’s been a lot of work to get the boys fit after football season, and by January we should be rolling.”

Jorja Catt canned 15 points and blocked three shots as Fulton bottled up the Charles Bloom Timberwolves 42-21 in junior girls play Wednesday night.

Fulton led 19-8 after a very defensive first-half battle and then pulled ahead 29-10 before Bloom mounted a comeback to pull within 10 in the fourth quarter. Catt scored nine unanswered points in the final minutes.

Lily Lee and Nya Derkach combined for 19 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks to help the Marons.

“Bloom centre Jessica Verhage dominated the game on both ends and made life very difficult for the Maroons,” saud Fulton head coach Johnal Lee. “But our girls played tough and maintained their composure despite the collapse in the third quarter. Lee and Derkach did a great job defending the paint through some difficult situations.”

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