Vernon’s Brianna Falk (middle) of the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball team is greeted by teammate Tessa Burton during introductions ahead of Saturday’s game against UBC. (Conan Shing Photography)

Vernon’s Brianna Falk (middle) of the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball team is greeted by teammate Tessa Burton during introductions ahead of Saturday’s game against UBC. (Conan Shing Photography)

Vernon’s Falk fantastic for UBCO Heat hoops

Graduating senior Brianna Falk, with help from sister and teammates, leads Heat to big win over UBC

Graduating senior Brianna Falk, a Vernon Panthers alumnus, led a relentless effort from the UBC Okanagan Heat women’s basketball team as they posted a massive 79-43 victory over the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 19, at The Furnace.

In her second to final regular-season game in a Heat uniform, Brianna put up a gritty 12 points, eight rebounds, six steals, a pair of blocks, and an assist in the Heat’s win, the second-largest margin of victory in program history.

Playing with her heart on her sleeve, her team rallied behind Brianna as they snapped a four-game losing streak.

The win, for the Heat, is a testament to the hard work the team has put in, from dropping 14 straight games to their big-sister Thunderbirds between 2011 and 2019, to now, taking two of three games from UBC this season.

Along with Brianna’s heartfelt performance, her younger sister, Kelsey played a large role in the victory with 19 points and nine rebounds. The duo from Vernon shared an emotional embrace as Kelsey checked in for Brianna in the game’s final minutes. Brianna was serenaded by a standing ovation from the crowd.

Falk has been a member of the Heat since 2017-18. The 5-foot-9 forward will graduate from the nursing program this year and has been the team’s inspirational leader, having overcome numerous injuries throughout her career. Despite those injuries, Falk still ranks fourth all-time in team history for career field goal percentage and in the Top 10 for multiple rebounding career records.

“This was a big win for us in many ways but most importantly we got to celebrate Brianna in a great way,” said Heat head coach and former VSS senior girls bench boss Bobby Mitchell. “The team really stepped up and had great energy from start to finish. A great team win.”

UBCO also got strong performances from Kelowna’s Jaeli Ibbetson with 15 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, as well as Vancouver’s Surprise Munie, whose two points went along with her 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Hailey Counsell led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 12 points off the bench. UBC was held to a season-low 43 points.

The win helps UBCO move a step ahead of the Thunderbirds in the Canada West standings, improving to 7-10, while the T-Birds drop to 6-11 on the year.

The Heat’s final game of the regular season comes next Thursday, February 24, at 5:30 p.m. when they host the Victoria Vikes at The Furnace. Tickets for the game are available at the door 30 minutes before tipoff.

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