‘No regrets’ for Crusaders

Nicole Vander Helm takes a shot during the B.C. Girls Senior AAA High School Basketball Tournament in Langley. Vander Helm was a first-team all-star. - EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER
Nicole Vander Helm takes a shot during the B.C. Girls Senior AAA High School Basketball Tournament in Langley. Vander Helm was a first-team all-star.
— image credit: EVAN SEAL / THE LEADER

They were one bucket away from playing for a B.C. championship, but the Holy Cross Crusaders were satisfied with a third place finish in their inaugural season at the Senior AAA level.

The Surrey school, winners of a B.C. high school girls basketball championship a year ago at the Senior AA level, won three of four games at last week's B.C. Senior AAA girls championship at the Langley Events Centre. They lost a heart-breaking 67-66 decision to the Oak Bay Breakers Friday night, but shook off the disappointment to outlast the W.J. Mouat Hawks 84-71 Saturday afternoon in a bronze medal game.

"It's exactly what we wanted, it's why we went triple-A this year," said Crusaders head coach Steve Beauchamp of the depth of competition at the highest level of girls basketball in the province. "It was a heartbreaking loss last night (Friday). As a coach, you look back and see if we could have done differently. But we have no regrets."

The Crusaders had a hugely successful season. Ranked among the top teams in B.C. all season, Holy Cross defeated all opposition in the deepest zone in the province, going undefeated to win the Fraser Valley Senior AAA championship banner.

Seeded number-one for the provincial tournament, they won their first two games by decisive margins, only to fall just short in Friday's semifinal contest.

The Crusaders fell behind early against the Breakers, trailing by eight points after one quarter. But for the next 20 minutes, they dominated. Holy Cross led 34-33 at half time, and had stretched their lead to 10 points after three quarters.

Oak Bay outscored Holy Cross 20-9 over the final 10 minutes to eliminate the Crusaders from championship contention.

Nicole Vander Helm led Holy Cross with 23 points. Michele Bos added 12 and Maria Palmigiani netted 10. Vanderhelm and Rachel Beauchamp each had 10 rebounds.

With a bronze medal on the line Saturday afternoon, Holy Cross scored the game's first seven points and raced to a 26-13 lead over the Hawks after the first quarter.

But W.J. Mouat dominated the second quarter and cut the lead to two by half time, and surged to a five-point advantage in the third period.

Holy Cross regrouped, tightened up defensively, and with 27 points in the fourth quarter the Crusaders were dominating their opponents as time wound down.

"We got up and got a little bit complacent, and I thought Mouat really increased their intensity and physicality in the second quarter," said coach Beauchamp. "They really came at us. We're not a physical team, we don't play that way.

"So we had a talk at half time, we needed to pick up our intensity and the girls did just that."

Rachel Beauchamp with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Bos with 20 and eight rebounds led the Crusaders. Samantha Beauchamp with 12 points and Vander Helm with 11 also scored in double digits. Vander Helm was selected to the tournament's first all-star team, while Bos and Rachel Beauchamp were on the second all-star squad.



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