Two Vernon schools are playing host to a pair of Okanagan Valley Senior Boys Basketball Championships.
Fulton Secondary is the site for the Okanagan AA championships starting Thursday, Feb. 20, that will see three schools out of eight advance to the B.C. Finals in Langley.
The host Maroons will tip off in the tournament’s opening game Thursday at 2 p.m. against the Summerland Rockets. The winner will play the winner of a game between Vernon’s Seaton Sonics and the Westsyde Whundas of Kamloops being played Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The semifinal tilt will go Friday at 5:30 p.m.
Coldstream’s Kalamalka Lakers face the George Elliot Coyotes of Lake Country in a Thursday quarterfinal at 7:15 p.m. with the winner to play the victor of a game between the Princess Margaret Mustangs of Penticton and the Revelstoke Avalanche Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The two championship semifinalists will meet for the Valley title Saturday at 7:45 p.m. and both will get berths to the provincial finals. The winner of the consolation final Saturday at 6 p.m. will also advance to Langley.
* At Vernon Secondary, the second-ranked Vernon Panthers host the four-team Valley AAA finals.
The Panthers, who lost last year’s provincial final by two points to the North Delta Huskies, play the Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops in one semifinal Friday, Feb. 21, at 7:15 p.m. They’ll meet the winner of the other semi between the South Kamloops Titans and Okanagan Mission Huskies (5;30 p.m. Friday, Panther Pit) in Saturday’s championship game.
The Okanagan champion will advance to the provincial finals.
The last time the Kalamalka Lakers attended the B.C. Junior Girls Basketball Championships was when they hosted the tournament in 2006.
It took 14 years, but the North Zone champion Lakers are returning to the big dance after grabbing one of four Valley berths from the Okanagan championship tournament which Kal hosted.
Kal went 2-2, beating the Similkameen Sparks of Keremeos and Valleyview Vikings of Kamloops, but lost to provincially second-ranked Kelowna Owls and the 14th-ranked Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops.
“This has been a long process for these girls, we are a small team only eight players, but every single one of the girls contributes every game,” said Kal coach Andy Collins. “I am super proud that in a valley with three provincial ranked teams from much larger schools, our girls competed and earned a spot.”
The No. 1 ranked team in B.C., Dr. Knox Trojans of Kelowna, won the Okanagan championship.
Kal has been ranked No. 22 for the 24-team provincial tourney and will face the 11th-seeded Seaquam Seahawks of Delta in their opening game Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 1:30 p.m.
The Vernon Panthers won the North Okanagan Zone Championship Tuesday night in a battle against Shuswap Middle school 42-37.
Shuswap got up early, getting an 8-2 lead before the Panthers struck back at the end of the first quarter to make it 8-7. In the second quarter, the Panthers came out with intensity and got a quick few hoops from defensive pressure to gain the lead 15-8.
From that point on, the teams seemed to trade points until the fourth quarter when Shuswap closed the gap to two points at 37-35. The Panthers were able to rally to gain a few points on a couple steals and subsequent drives to the hoop. Shuswap fought right to the end but Vernon was able to hold them off for the win.
VSS Coach Jason Beck gives credit to both teams for a great game and says the Panthers win was a complete team effort. The Panthers are now off to MEI in Abbotsford for the BC boys Grade 8 invitational provincial championship Feb. 27-29.