BASKETBALL: Hoop playoff dreams for Surrey high school teams

SURREY — With only a week remaining in league play and the school semester, high school basketball players and coaches are gearing up for the postseason.

According to The Province’s Big 10 Rankings, Holy Cross Crusaders (5-0) are one of the Quad-A teams to beat in the Fraser Valley.

Assistant coach Anthony Pezzente said the team’s difficult schedule helped them become stronger as the season went on.

"I definitely think playing (Sir Winston) Churchill and (Vancouver) College has helped us a lot more," Pezzente said. "When you get used to playing tough teams, it doesn’t really phase you anymore when you have to play against guys like that."

The coach also mentioned how deep the Crusaders are, noting nine or 10 players on his roster could be starters on other teams.This is even more impressive when you factor Taylor Browne, one of the team’s strongest players, who has been out of action with a sprained ankle.

However, Pezzente expects Browne to be back to normal when the playoffs begin for the Crusaders.

The Crusaders have performed very well in the league, scoring an average of 93 points per game while allowing just 54.4 per game.

North Surrey (5-1) is sitting just behind Holy Cross in the Fraser Valley Central division in second place. The Spartans lost to the Crusaders 84-60 last week, losing ground on their rivals.

Murray McDonald, North Surrey’s head coach, said his team has to take one more step up in order to be able to match up against Holy Cross.

"It’s getting them to focus on their own execution and realizing no matter who we play, whether you think they’ve got lots of skill or not a lot of skill, they all want tobeat us," the coach said.

Tamanawis Wildcats (5-0) are tied for the lead with Delta Secondary in the Fraser Valley South division, after a commanding 80-28 home victory over Earl Marriott on Wednesday (Jan. 28).

Wildcats co-coach Doug McKenzie agreed with the Holy Cross coach that playing in tournaments against tougher opponents has made his squad stronger.

"You go to tournaments and you want to play tough competition. That’s the most important thing,"McKenzie said. "You find out so much about your team when you’re playing against the top teams and what you need to get better at."

At the Bill Kushnir Memorial Tournament, the Wildcats lost games against Yale and Pitt Meadows, two of the strongest teams in the region. The coach said the boys learned to play at a high level for the entire game — necessary if they want to beat the better teams in the province.

McKenzie said he’s pretty pleased with how the team has performedthis season, but he’s expecting his squad to have to make it through a challenge if they want their season to go into March.

"If we get to make the big dance this year, we’re going to have to go through a team like Yale," he added.

Semiahmoo Totems (4-3) have played all of their league games and should finish in third or fourth in the Fraser Valley South division. Head coach Ed Lefurgy said the team had a roller-coaster season, and he is trying to get his team to play consistently for the end of the year.

He also added that a lot of the teams are at a similar level at this point of the season.

"There’s a lot of parity out there. Everybody has beaten everybody," said Lefurgy. "There is no top dog right now. It’s going to be really exciting down the stretch."

Kwantlen Park (4-2), Lord Tweedsmuir (4-3) and Panorama Ridge (3-2) are teams that could make a run in the Fraser Valley Championships, according to these coaches.

At the Triple-A level, Fleetwood Park (4-0) is ranked third in the province and is considered a strong favourite to take home a provincial banner. Assistant coach Nick Day said the team has been a little inconsistent in its league games, but hopes the team can win their league playoffs so they can host the Fraser Valley Championships.

kyle.benning@gmail.com

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