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Panthers feed off home crowd
Morning Star Staff
The drought is over for the VSS Panthers.
VSS is going to the B.C. Senior AAA Boys Basketball Championships for the first time in more than 10 years after a thrilling 99-89 win over the NorKam Saints Saturday night at the Panther Pit.
The Cats enter the provincials, March 12-16, at the Langley Events Centre, as Okanagan Valley champions. The final was close throughout the first half with both teams trading shots back and forth until John Garvie electrified the large home crowd by hitting a buzzer beater to end the half and put VSS up 42-34.
The Cats struggled to start the third quarter and got into foul trouble but were able to maintain a 10 -point lead going into the fourth.
With three Panther starters fouling out early in the fourth, the Panther bench, led by Zach Kronbauer, came up big in the late minutes.
Mitchell (Doctor) Pepper and Shelby Hartwig sealed the deal going 10-for-12 from the free throw line in the last 90 seconds
“It was a complete team win,” said VSS head coach Glenn Garvie.
Hartwig rung up 26 points and 10 rebounds to take playoff MVP. Garvie drained 20 points, while Andy Hladik and Chris Inscho each flushed 16 and Pepper added 15.
“I’ve never seen anything like the crowd support we had,” said Hartwig. “It definitely helps. When we were down, they definitely picked us up. It feels so sweet going to provincials.”
Hartwig said the Cats played a better than normal team game in the Valleys, and he gives coach Garvie, a parent who works outside the school, major props.
“He definitely brought us all together. He really knows basketball and with his knowledge, he got us fired up. He said all the right things at the right time.”
The Sa-Hali Sabres of Kamloops grounded the Okanagan Mission Huskies of Kelowna 93-54 for third place in the four-team playdowns.
Meanwhile the No. 14 Charles Bloom Timberwolves open the B.C. Senior A Girls Basketball Championships at 6 p.m. in Lumby against the No. 3 Cedars Christian Eagles of Prince George.
The top-ranked Immaculata Mustangs of Kelowna begin defence of the B.C. title at 8 p.m. against the No. 16 Glenlyon-Norfolk Gryphons of Victoria.
Some preliminary games are being held at Kalamalka Secondary. The finals go Saturday, 7 p.m., at Bloom.
The No. 7 Fulton Maroons start the B.C. Senior AA Boys Basketball Championships today at 1:45 p.m. in Langley versus No. 10 Notre Dame Jugglers of Vancouver.
A win would put Fulton into second-round play against the No. 1 St. Michael’s University Blue Jags of Victoria. The final is scheduled for Saturday night.