Vernon hoops stars still shining

Vernon's Cassandra Brown and Coldstream's Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe enjoy breakout season in women's college basketball.

After playing limited minutes as a freshman, Cassandra Brown showed she is ready to shine with a breakout performance to end her sophomore season with the Portland Pilots.

The Fulton Maroon grad canned a career-high 32 points to lead the NCAA Division 1 Pilots past the Santa Clara Broncos 90-76 in the second round of the West Coast Conference (WCC) Women’s Basketball Championships at the Orleans Arena Thursday in Las Vegas.

Brown’s performance makes her the first 30-point scorer for Portland since 2009. She was just two points shy of the WCC tournament record for points in a game.

“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Brown told Portland Athletics. “Santa Clara stole two games from us this season, so we wanted to get one back.”

Brown supplied 17 points in the first half, which helped the Pilots to a 44-31 lead at the break.

The 90 points are a season high for the Pilots, who shot 43 percent for the game and 53 percent (11-for-21) on three-pointers. The Pilots were also 23 of 34 from the free throw line.

The No. 7 Pilots ended their campaign with a 70-60 loss to the No. 3 San Diego Toreros in the WCC quarterfinals Friday afternoon.

n Meanwhile, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, a former standout with the Kalamalka Lakers, recorded 20 points and 12 rebounds as the Simon Fraser University Clan grabbed its first NCAA playoff victory, defeating the Seattle Pacific University Falcons, 69-61 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) quarterfinals Thursday in Lacey, Wash.

Raincock-Ekunwe ended her season with a double-double (21 points, 13 boards) as the Clan fell 74-70 to the top-ranked Alaska Anchorage Seawolves in semifinal action Friday night.

Raincock-Ekunwe was earlier named a GNAC first team of all-star.

n The No. 10 ranked Vernon Panthers open play at the B.C. Senior AA Girls Basketball Championships against the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints of North Vancouver Wednesday in Kamloops.