The Kelowna Owls made the most of home court advantage by claiming the 2011 edition of the Best of the West senior girls basketball tournament.
In a tightly contested final game Saturday night, the Owls rallied down the stretch to defeat the Vernon Panthers 82-78.
The 13th-ranked (AAA) Owls trailed by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter but thanks to several three-pointers and some clutch shooting from the foul line, KSS emerged with the four-point win.
Grade 10 pick-up Cassie Whittaker led KSS in the final with 24 points, while Jade Montgomery-Waardenburg added 19. Jordan Ned had seven steals.
Britney Walton had 29 for VSS, ranked No. 7 in B.C. at the AA level.
The Owls opened the tourney with a 60-47 win over Penticton as Montgomery-Waardenburg scored 19 and Breanna Beaudry had 14 points.
In the semifinals, the owls beat Chilliwack 50-40. Montgomery-Waardenburg led the way with 14 points, while Amy Doricic had 10 points and six rebounds.
“The girls really made big strides this weekend to up their level of play,” said Owls coach Lisa Nevoral. “This weekend the girls really got to business and played good defense, whether zone or man-to-man. In the finals, we found our ability to score, whether lay-ups, four-foot shots, or three pointers. To win down the road, we will need this confidence in scoring.”
The Owls were again without Grade 12 post Caitlin Pomietlarz who has been sidelined since Jan. 8 with a knee injury.
Coach Nevoral is hoping to have her back in the lineup for the Okanagan championship Feb. 26 and 26.
Mt. Boucherie beat Chilliwack 57-47 to win the bronze medal at Best of the West. Baily Weymouth paced the attack for the Bears with 25 points.
In the their opener, Boucherie downed Sa-Hali from Kamloops 62-60 as Weymouth hit the winning points from the free throw line with two seconds left.
In the semifinal, the Bears came up short against Vernon 68-50. The game was close for three quarters until Weymouth and Julia Phillips fouled out.
“I hope that (the Bears’) strong showing at this tournament will solidify 1 1/2 berths for the Okanagan zone heading into provincials,” said Bears coach Matt Heyworth.
The zone also includes No. 5 South Kamloops and the 13th rated Owls.