Claire Baycroft of the Vernon Panthers brings the ball up-court against the St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints of North Vancouver during the Tessa’s Tournament senior girl’s basketball event in Surrey. (Wilson Wong photo)

Vernon Panthers host zone finals

Vernon senior girls basketball team warm up for zones by going 2-1 at Surrey tournament

The beginning of the North Zone senior girls AA basketball playoffs will begin this weekend as the VSS Panthers will host the Seaton Sonics, Pleasant Valley Sinners and the Fulton Maroons. Games will take place at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday night.

Seaton plays Fulton in a battle of longtime crossstown rivals at 6:30 p.m. The Panthers take on the Sinners at 8 p.m. The two winners meet in the late game Saturday, the two losers play the early contest on Day 2.

The Panthers are coming off a weekend at the Tessa Tournament in Surrey, where they recorded two wins but fell to the No. 1 ranked AA Saint Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints.

The No. 6 Cats opened the tournament with a 73-37 win over the tournament hosts, Holy Cross Crusaders. Player of the game Kelsey Falk led the Cats with 20 points. Sarah Butler chipped in 15 while Kelsey Watts had 11 and Ashley Budgen had nine.

“It was great to see us push the ball up the floor. We are trying to get easier hoops and that work in practice is paying off,” said Panthers coach Dave Tetrault.

The Panthers faced the No. 9 AAA Abbotsford Panthers Friday night winning on last-second free throws by Falk for a 72-70 decision. Player of the game Budgen had 12 points. Falk finished with 30 including five three-point shots. Watts had 15 and Butler had eight to round out the scoring.

“We played great. All the kids chipped in and took care of the ball. The coaches daughter for Abby, Marin Lenz, had 44 points and our defence was good. She is an exceptional player,” said Tetrault.

VSS faced the Fighting Saints Saturday morning, losing 54-45 in an exciting tough defensive struggle.

“They are very big. We gave them everything they could handle on defence. I am very proud of the kids. Our effort was there,” said Tetrault. “We stopped scoring in the third quarter and that was the game.”

The team lost more than just the game. Emi Durfeld sustained a knee injury that will end her playing season late in the game.

“Emi is a warrior,” said Tetrault. “She was having one of her best games of the season. We will miss her tenacity down the stretch. She represents the best of what girls basketball at VSS is: commitment, competitiveness, teamwork, and caring. She is part of a legacy of players from St. James school that has carried this program.”

Player of the game Kelsey Watts had nine points, as did Crerar. Falk had 19.

The winner of the zones will host the Okanagan Valley championships next weekend.

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