KAMLOOPS – The basketball pipeline between Vernon and the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack has been a rich one over the years. Again in 2011-12, the WolfPack have gone to the North Okanagan community to get a player.
Earlier this season, Scott Clark secured the services of 6-foot-8 Will Ondrik for the men’s team. Now, Scott Reeves has gone to Vernon to get a commitment from 17-year-old wing Britney Walton of the VSS Panthers for the coming season.
“Britney is a hard worker that won’t shy away from working on her weaknesses,” said Reeves. “She understands the commitment to play at the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) level and will work diligently on her skill set to help our team.”
Walton averaged 19 points a game, with six rebounds, three steals and two assists per game with the Panthers, who finished fourth at the 2011 BCAA Championships in Kamloops.
“My biggest strengths are that I am versatile,” she said. “I rebound the ball well and shoot threes with accuracy.”
Bobby Mitchell has known Walton since Grade 8, and coached her the last three years in senior and club basketball in Vernon.
“She initially started as a post but her ability to shoot and play from the outside had me move her to wing,” said Mitchell. “Britney is very versatile and is able to play in a number of different situations.”
Walton plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in either social work or education. She was looking at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, Camosun College in Victoria and UNBC in Prince George before deciding on TRU.
“I chose TRU because I felt it would be a good fit in many aspects,” she said. “TRU is such a great school and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Their basketball program is constantly improving and I am so happy that I can attain a university degree while playing CIS basketball. It doesn’t get much better than that.
“Also, by being close to home, my family will be able to come watch some games and that would be awesome. I believe that by playing for the WolfPack, Scott and the rest of the coaching staff will help mould me into the best possible basketball player I can be.”
Walton becomes the fourth player from Vernon to suit up for the WolfPack women’s program in the last five years, following in the footsteps of Kayla Forsyth, Diane Schuetze and Karalyn Forsyth. All three are Panther alumni.
Mitchell has coached all four of the Vernon-TRU players during his seven-year coaching stint with the Panthers.
“They were all good players, but I would have to say that Britney’s great work ethic and athletic ability put her ahead in development. In her senior year, she was called upon to do things that the others weren’t. Kayla, Diane and Karalyn were all strictly post players.”
Added Reeves: “Britney can finish inside and is developing her outside shooting to three point range. She will complement our forwards very well. She can rebound and guard bigger players if called to.”
Walton becomes the fourth high school prospect signed by Reeves for next season.
The others are Taiysa Worsfold (Sa-Hali Sabres, Kamloops), Dana Clarkson (Vanderhoof) and Jade Montgomery-Waardenburg (Kelowna).
Walton is very appreciative of the work of her previous coaches to get her to the place she is today.
“I want to thank all of them (Mike Bertram (Grade 8), Dave Tetrault (junior), Bobby Mitchell and Lonnie Mazaruk for their continuous support and for believing in the potential that they saw in me. Each of them taught me so much about the game, pushed me harder than ever, and showed me that I can achieve my dreams. Without them, there is no way I’d be the basketball player, or person, that I am today.”
She also gave a huge shout out to her mom and grandmother for their support.