March sadness for Surrey’s senior girls teams

LANGLEY – – After bringing another Fraser Valley Championship banner into their gym two weeks ago, the Holy Cross senior girls’ basketball team ended their season on a bittersweet note last weekend at Langley Events Centre.

Coach Steve Beauchamp’s team, who took home the bronze medal in last year’s Triple A tournament, finished this year’s Double A provincial championship in 13th place after losing their opening two games to No. 13 St. Thomas Aquinas and No. 12 Vernon.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s all a part of the process.

“Hats off to (St. Thomas Aquinas), because their kids really showed that they wanted it,” Beauchamp said. “They were fully deserving of the win.”

The four-point opening-round defeat to the Fighting Saints meant the No. 4 team could place no higher than 9th.

In their first consolation game, the Vernon Panthers beat the Crusaders by three points.

“For a lot of the girls, other than probably Nicole (Vander Helm), the first game of the provincials is the first game for all of them. There are those nerves. There’s that, ‘Not realizing how hard you have to play’ (feeling), and I think that sank in,” added the coach.

However, Beauchamp said the team played much better in the second two games after making adjustments, which led them to a 65-46 victory over Caledonia before a 75-47 win over local rivals Southridge.

In their final game Saturday (March 7), Beauchamp said the team had one of their best quarters of the season, scoring 30 points in the third frame, which equalled their offensive output of the first half.

In her final game with the Crusaders, Vander Helm had a double-double with a game-high 43 points and 12 rebounds, with 34 points and ten boards recorded in the second half.

“I cannot say enough about my teammates setting screens for me,” Vander Helm said. “It’s unbelievable. How they work around me is what really helped me get that many points today.”

Beauchamp noted that Vander Helm is now among the career all-time leading scorers in the tournament after her performance at the 16-team event.

He also said the team suffered from injuries down the stretch, including key absentees in Maria Palmegiani and Rebecca Waithe.

But he acknowledged the rebounding execution of junior Georgia Walley, who was called up after Palmegiani and Waithe were ruled out. Walley grabbed 20 boards in the final game.

Holy Cross’ final 75-47 victory over Southridge meant Southridge finished the tournament in 14th place.

Like their cross-town rivals, Paul Chiarenza also had to deal with injuries at the end of Southridge’s season, including

Katelyn Punia. She suffered from a meniscus (knee) injury at the end of the regular season. The guard played through the Fraser Valley Championships wearing a brace. In the first game of the provincials, Punia landed awkwardly after jumping for a pass, which forced her to sit out the remainder of the tournament.

“It was one of the great, gutsiest performances I’ve ever coached,” Chiarenza said of his guard playing through pain.

The coach said if his team was fully healthy, they could contend for a top-six spot in this tournament.

“We gained some valuable experience,” he said. “The girls who are coming back next year know what it takes to get here and to win here.”

In the Triple A division, the No. 10 Fleetwood Park Dragons finished the tournament in 12th after a 61-56 loss to the Claremont Spartans.

Guard Cyrille Butac finished with a game-high 23 points, while forward Simran Grewal racked up 11 points and 15 rebounds in Fleetwood’s Saturday game (March 7).

“Of course, we would always want to do better, but the goal all year was to get to B.C.’s and do the best that we can,” said head coach Pam Reynolds. “We had a few quarters where we didn’t play that well and that kind of effected the outcome.”

Elgin Park Secondary finished in 14th after a five-year absence from the tournament.

Orcas’ head coach Bruce Murdoch said he wouldn’t have bet on his team to qualify for the provincials halfway through the season.

“As soon as we made it to the B.C.’s, everything was gravy,” he said. “We didn’t win a whole lot of games in the regular season. We won the games we had to, to get us in a reasonable playoff spot.”

The South Surrey team lost its final game 64-58 to Burnaby Mountain. Guard Lisa Tambor finished with a team-high 17 points and Brooklyn Tidder chipped in with 16 points and 20 rebounds.

The senior boys’ tournament started Wednesday, March 11. kyle.benning@gmail.com

WIN FOR PANORAMA RIDGE IN JUNIOR BRACKET In the girls’ Junior Varsity tourney at LEC last weekend, it was an all-Surrey provincial final Saturday (March 7) as Panorama Ridge beat Lord Tweedsmuir 54-35.

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