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Crusaders claim Fire Fighters championship

Holy Cross avoids Orcas at all-Surrey tournament
Cyrille Butac (3) of the Fleetwood Park Dragons tangles with Jeanneine Yngreso of the Holy Cross Crusaders during play at the Surrey Fire Fighters Goodwill Classic last week at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary. The Crusaders won the all-Surrey tournament for the first time since 2002.

For several seasons, the Holy Cross Crusaders have had their run at the Surrey Fire Fighters Classic halted by the Elgin Park Orcas.

So when the perennial provincial powerhouse team from South Surrey was upset in the preliminary round, Holy Cross took full advantage, topping the host Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 79-42 Saturday evening in Cloverdale to win the all-Surrey Senior girls high school basketball tournament for the first time since 2002.

“For the last few years, it always seemed we would be playing Elgin Park in the semifinal round,” said Crusaders head coach Steve Beauchamp. “We were always getting knocked out, and playing for third place.

“And last year, we finally got the to final, and we gave them a good game, but lost again.”

The Orcas were favoured for a sixth straight Fire Fighters title last week, but in their second game of the round robin portion of the competition, were upended 56-49 by a Panthers team playing in their home gymnasium at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary.

Winners of their three-team group with a pair of wins, Lord Tweedsmuir advanced to the tournament final for the first-time ever.

Holy Cross, meanwhile, easily won their group in preliminary play, starting with a 70-26 victory over the Panorama Ridge Thunder, then finishing up with an easy 83-27 triumph over the Fleetwood Park Dragons.

“We had played Tweedsmuir in the semifinals last year,” recalled Beauchamp. “And a lot of our girls know their players through soccer and other (community sports). We knew they’re a good team.

“We were ready to play Elgin Park, but when Tweedsmuir won, our team just said ‘we know Elgin Park was good, maybe Tweedsmuir is better.’ ”

Led by the efforts of tournament Most Valuable Player Tessa Beauchamp, and Best Defensive Player award winner Jessica Villadiego, the Crusaders completed their three-game run through the six-team Axe Division of the tournament with a 37-point victory over Tweedsmuir.

“In addition to the award winners, a pair of Grade 12s really stepped it up for us,” said coach Beauchamp. “Claudia Garzitto took a couple of charges, hitting the floor hard. And Cecile Ehman was Miss Versatile for us, doing a nice job of playing the different roles we asked of her.”

Cara Bagry of Lord Tweedsmuir won the Most Inspirational Player honour, while Jasmine Sidhu of Panorama Ridge was the three-point shooting champion.

- While the six higher-seeded teams played off in the Axe Division, the 14 other squads in the week-long tournament tipped off in the single-knockout Ladder Division, where the Earl Marriott Mariners stopped the Tamanawis Wildcats 60-50 in Saturday’s championship game.

Brianna Beamish of the Mariners was named the Most Valuable Player in the Ladder division.

The Johnston Heights Eagles got by the North Surrey Spartans 50-47 in the third place game.

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