Unranked going into the seventh annual Sweet 16 junior girls basketball tournament, the co-host Okanagan Mission Huskies made it clear on the weekend they should be considered among the top 10 teams in the province.
The Huskies posted three wins in four games — their only loss (42-38) coming at the hands of the Sweet 16-champion and No 5-ranked Valleyview Vikes of Kamloops in quarter-final play on home court.
OKM knocked off provincial honourable-mention Summerland Rockets 47-39 in their final game to nail down fifth place in the 16-team event, co-hosted by Immaculata Regional High School.
A 58-39 victory over the Unity Christian Flames of Chilliwack jump-started the Huskies’ impressive weekend run, led by top scorer Devon Felt and player-of-the-game, Makenna Jacklin, who went on to earn a tournament first-team all-star selection.
Up against Valleyview in the quarters, the Huskies stayed with the Vikes and had opportunities to steal a win, but faded slightly down the stretch despite a player-of-the-game performance by Grade 9 point guard Jordyn Elliott, named to the tournament’s second all-star team.
The young Huskies, with seven Grade 9s on the team, bounced back in their third game, defeating the W.L. Seaton Sonics of Vernon, paced by the outstanding play of POG Esmee Barnard.
Jordan Bury was selected as the OKM player of the game in the upset win over Summerland.
In the Sunrype Friday Night Skill Challenge, the Huskies also made their mark, with Elliott and Jacklin winning the two-ball shooting contest. Felt joined her teammates to also win the Shooting Star Contest with an impressive time of one minute 10 seconds.
It was no wonder after the three-day tournament that coach Tanya Russell was looking forward to seeing what her upstart team can do going forward.
“There’s going to be some incredible competition at Central Okanagan zone and Valley championships and we believe we’re in the mix as far as being contenders for a spot at the provincial championship tournament,” said Russell.
Already assured of a berth the B.C. junior tournament in Langley Feb. 28 to March 3 are the Kelowna Owls, who won a qualifying tournament in Penticton earlier this month.
The Owls, ranked No. 3 in the province prior to the weekend, cooled off somewhat, but still won two of four games and competed well in the pair of losses.
The Kelowna Secondary School representatives opened with a lopsided win over D.W. Poppy of Langley, led by game all-star, Japleen Chahal.
In quarter-final play, the Owls played well, but a surprising Mt. Baker Wild team from Cranbrook played better in a 42-35 upset win that saw Katrina Fink garner the player-of-the-game designation. The Wild went on to defeat No. 10-ranked Duchess Park of Prince George in semifinal play before dropping a 42-37 decision to Valleyview in the championship game on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Owls got off to slow start in their third game against Summerland. KSS was down by 19 points at the half, but came out on fire in the second half, only to fall by three points (47-44) to a highly regarded Rockets team. Morgan Begg was selected as the game star in a losing cause.
The Owls rounded out their weekend effort by defeating W.L. Seaton by 20-plus points in a game that saw Sophie Lachapelle earn game all-star for the winners.
KSS and OKM will be considered favourites next week when they compete in the Central Okanagan zone championship tournament that will decide the two representatives for the Okanagan Valley tournament Feb. 16 and 17.