Kelsey Watts of the Vernon Panthers goes up for two points in double-coverage. The Panthers beat the hosting Southridge Storm in the final of the KFACE Klassic charity tournament, Jan. 25-26, 2020. (Submitted photo)

Vernon Panthers take top spot at Southridge charity tournament

Senior girls basketbal team goes 3-0 at Southridge KFACE Klassic

The Vernon Senior girls basketball team returned from White Rock last weekend as the winners of the KFACE Klassic charity tournament.

The annual tournament raises donations for the Kenya Foundation to Aid Children through Education (KFACE), which helps fund children – primarily girls – in Kenya through secondary school.

The sixth-ranked AAA Panthers started the weekend off with a convincing 89-31 win over the J.N. Burnett Breakers, led by Grade-11 player Abby Hackman’s 25 points.

The semi-final was a defensive battle that saw the Panthers prevailed against the Handsworth Royals 43-36. Senior player Ashley Budgen had 18 points to lead her team while Kelsey Watts had 15 of her own.

“These girls can defend,” said co-coach Dave Tetrault. “It is great to see us work as a team to stop people from scoring. A true team effort.”

In the final the Panthers played the seventh-ranked AA host Storm before a loud and at times hostile crowd. The Cats kept their focus through the noise, beating the hosts 69-63 in a back-and-forth tournament finale.

“The team has been working on different ways to score, and everyone got on the scoreboard,” said co-coach Chad Butler “Player of the game Sarah Boyd had 6 points and played well.”

Budgen, the tournament MVP, had an outstanding defensive game along with 10 points. Tournament all-star Kelsey Watts had 23 points and was a steady veteran presence everywhere on the floor. Sarah Butler had 12 points and was a force at the defensive end.

Hackman was named player of the game in the finals, in large part for her strong offensive rebounding. Hackman had 15 points crashing the offensive boards.

“So proud of how all our kids handled a pressure packed gym. We stayed focused and did what we needed to do,” said Tetrault.”The leadership of Watts, Budgen, and Butler has carried this team all season. Three classy and determined players.”

Next up for the Panthers is the Valleyview Vikings, a top-five AAA team who visit Vernon on Tuesday night. The Cats will then head to Surrey for their annual trip to the Tessa Tournament, where all funds are donated to cancer research.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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