Isaiah Ondrik of the Vernon Panthers (with ball) drives past MEI Eagles defenders Majiken Meindertsma (left) and Brodie Kelly during the Cats’ opening-round 81-37 victory at the B.C. High School Senior Boys 3A Basketball Championships in Langley. (Mary-Anne Morgan - photo)

Vernon Panthers cruise to win in B.C. opener

Cats crush MEI Eagles 81-37; Maroons, Timberwolves relegated to consolation side

Defence. Offence. The Vernon Panthers had it all going in their opening-round game at the B.C. Senior Boys 3A Basketball Championships in Langley Wednesday.

The second-ranked Panthers, who lost the 2019 final by two points to the North Delta Huskies, held Clearbrook’s MEI Eagles to single-digit points in three quarters, and ratcheted up the offence early, rolling to an 81-37 victory.

VSS led 18-4 after one quarter and 64-29 at the half.

READ MORE: Vernon Panthers roll to second straight OK Valley crown

Isaiah Ondrik paced the Panthers with 22 points and nine rebounds. Zack Smith posted a monster double-double, draining 19 points to go along with 17 rebounds while Kevin Morgan chipped in 16 points.

“We were ready for this game. I thought our boys played lockdown defence from the opening tip and didn’t give them a lot of room to execute their sets,” said Panthers coach Malcolm Reid. “We held them, a good team, to less than 10 points per quarter which was a good sign. Offensively, we were a bit stagnant, at times, and missed a few shots that we usually make. I’m hoping we can do better in those areas as the competition gets tougher each time we win.”

VSS has a quarterfinal date Thursday at 8:15 p.m. against the seventh-ranked St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights of Burnaby, who won their opener, 76-73, over the 10th-ranked Steveston-London Sharks of Richmond.

* The Clarence Fulton Maroons of Vernon and Charles Bloom Timberwolves of Lumby were relegated to the consolation side of their respective provincial tournaments after opening-day defeats.

The Maroons, seeded 13th, were held to a season-low nine points in the opening half by Victoria’s fourth-ranked Brentwood Bay, who rolled to a 74-28 victory at the B.C. High School Senior Boys 2A Championships, also being played in Langley.

Karan Maholtra had seven points to lead the Maroons, who play the Surrey Christian Falcons Thursday.

The T-Wolves, ranked 16th at the 16-team B.C. Seniors Girls 1A Championships in Kelowna, dropped a 76-38 decision to the top-seed and defending champion Credo Christian Kodiaks of Langley (no scoring details available).

Bloom will take on the Maple Ridge Christian Hornets Thursday.

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Nathan Tinker of the Vernon Panthers (with ball) dribbles past MEI Eagles defender Majiken Meindertsma during the Cats’ opening-round 81-37 victory at the B.C. High School Senior Boys 3A Basketball Championships in Langley. (Mary-Anne Morgan - photo)

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