A grueling three-day tryout in Langley has landed a trio of rising Vernon basketball stars spots on Team B.C.
Jordyn Cullum and Kristy Fugel, both of the Vernon Panthers, will spend the summer logging miles on the court with the provincial Under 15 girls team, while Megan Rouault of the Fulton Maroons will tour with the U14 girls squad.
Jordan Korol of the Kalamalka Lakers was offered a spot on the U16 girls team, but chose to decline.
The girls’ selection will place them alongside (and against) some of the best players in the province, and in the U.S. Each team will play a 20-plus game schedule throughout June and July, with several major tournaments in Washington State.
The U15 girls wrap up their summer with a big tourney in Las Vegas, July 22-25.
Cullum, who moved to Vernon from Vanderhoof, plays the post position and excels at shutting down opposing teams’ offence.
“I’m more of a defensive rebounder,” said Cullum, who found provincial tryouts tough, but a great experience.
“They put you through a lot of drills. It’s just a lot of hard work and long hours. It’s worth it just to get better at what you love.”
Fugel, whose older sister Karley helped VSS reach the B.C. senior AA girls championship final for the first time in more than three decades (they fell to the Holy Cross Crusaders of Surrey in the final in May), has shown a knack for generating offence by pressuring defenders.
She credits Panther junior girls coach Dave Tetrault for developing her skill set.
“I’ve had Mr. T for a few years,” said Fugel. “He’s a great coach and he helped me find a love for the game through his humour and knowledge. He has a great way of making practices fun and worthwhile.”
Like Fugel, Rouault has some royal court pedigree as older brothers Mitch, Brett and Michael all starred for the Maroons in their high school days. Michael just graduated and Brett currently plays with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.
Rouault found Team B.C. auditions, held at Brookswood Secondary in Langley, slightly nerve wracking.
“It was scary, but fun,” said Rouault. “Whenever I made a mistake, it was what all I thought of the whole time. I wouldn’t think of anything good I did.”
All three girls were teammates on the Okanagan regional team last year, earning runners-up at B.C. championships under coach Warren Cullum (Jordyn’s father).
He said each girl brought something different to the regional team.
In Rouault, he sees one of the top all-around players in her age group in the province.
“She brings a lot of maturity for her age to the game of basketball. She is an intelligent player and an incredibly hard worker.”
On Jordyn, he added: “She may be one of the hardest working players I know. She brings energy, toughness and size to her game. Her ability to defensively shut down her opponent is her strength.”
On Fugel: “An outstanding junior player who has great energy on the floor. She is a great team player and understands the game well beyond her age.”