They didn’t strike gold last weekend, but the Fulton Maroons will undoubtedly be a more confident team moving forward in the senior AA boys basketball season.
A combination of injuries and foul trouble caused head coach Dale Olson to rely heavily on his bench in the final of the 10th annual Maroons Corporate Classic, and they responded with a gutsy effort, falling 79-69 to the No. 2 rated Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops in Saturday’s final.
Already missing Grubinder Randhawa to injury, the No. 6 Maroons had to sit another two starters because of foul trouble in the first quarter.
“Our bench that came in played well, but we were still down five at the end of the first. We pushed out in the second, however, to give us a three-point lead at the break,” said Fulton manager Riley Mottus.
Fulton had their four normal starters plus Mitchell Rouault to start the third, but Dalton Anderson and Greg Hyde both fouled out midway through the third. Sa-Hali took advantage, going on a 17-7 run, then pushed for another 12-0 run to end the third.
With another starter fouled out, the Maroons went with five bench players, and they overwhelmed the Sabres.
“Our bench took it to the Sa-Hali starters that were left in the game until the end. The guys that were in played great defence and won the rest of the quarter 14-8, giving us a great deal of confidence for games later in the year even though we lost,” said Mottus.
Rouault was Fulton’s top scorer with 18 points, and both Ben Olson and Dustin Popoff had 10 points. Popoff chipped in with 11 rebounds, followed by Hyde with nine.
Sa-Hali’s Patrick Wells was named tournament MVP, while Fulton’s Olson and Anderson were selected to the all-star team along with Sa-Hali’s Timo Sargeant and Conner Dolson and Josh Raphael of the Duchess Park Condors of Prince George.
In junior girls action, the Vernon Panthers won a pair of league games to remain atop the North Zone standings at 4-0.
Quinsy Leier canned 15 points and Mary Rice had eight points as VSS hammered the Charles Bloom Timberwolves 63-18.
Leier fired 26 points and Sage Blundell chipped in with 13 as the Cats stuffed the Seaton Sonics 68-13.
VSS then looked to retain their No. 7 provincial ranking at a Pen-Hi tournament that featured five teams in the top 15 and an honorable mention.
They brushed back the tough Archbishop Carney Stars of Port Coquitlam 53-40. It was a one-point game at the half, but the Panthers turned up the defence which led to some easy fast-break points.
Game MVP Leier had 22 and Blundell had nine.
In the quarterfinals the Panthers got 10 points from Blundell as they grounded the Pen-Hi Lakers (honorable mention) 48-31.
“We were able to get quite a bit of playing time for all of our players in this game,” said VSS head coach Mike Bertram.
Fugel and Leier each had seven points for the Cats, who lost Katie Shaw to an ankle injury. Jenna Marion was Game MVP.
VSS suffered their first loss in the semis, falling to the South Kamloops Titans.
“Every single player on their team can shoot and score. We met our two goals of not turning the ball over against their press, and not letting them get fast-break points,” said Bertram.
The Panthers were only down four late in the second quarter, but the Titans poured on the offence to seal the win.
Emily Pfannschmidt was having an excellent game scoring eight points before she got hurt. Leier nailed 10 points and Maddie Sawka had five.
VSS rebounded in the third-place game, outgunning the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers of Surrey 42-28.
VSS built a 26-9 first-half lead, and stretched that to 25 before Tweedsmuir started to come back, cutting the lead to 14 by the end of the game.
Leier had 18 points, Fugel supplied 10 and Rice was Game MVP.
“Rice makes such smart decisions and runs the break with the best of them,” said Bertram.
The Maroons junior girls went 2-1 to collect bronze at a Burnaby tournament last weekend.
Tournament all-star Hana Ouchi recorded 15 points and Sam Ferreir had 14 as Doug Rogers’ Maroons thumped the Langley Christian Lightning 51-19 in their opener.
Fulton then fell 38-28 to the St. Thomas More Knights of Burnaby in their second outing.
Meranda Silva led the Maroons with eight points, while Ouchi, Ferreir and Danielle Olson each added six.
In the bronze-medal game, Fulton got 15 points from Ferreir as they grounded the Killarney Cougars of Vancouver 38-20.
Ouchi drained 10 points and Emma Miller delivered six.
Said Rogers: “Tough loss versus provincially-ranked St.Thomas More, but outstanding team performance for third place.”