Crusaders prove their worth in Coquitlam

If the Holy Cross Crusaders wondered if their move from class AA to the heavyweight class AAAA division was the right decision, they have no such qualms today after a stellar showing in Coquitlam’s prestigious Legal Beagle senior boys basketball tourney last weekend.

The fourth-ranked Crusaders knocked off a pair of top-10 opponents before falling in the title game to Coquitlam’s Gleneagle Talons (ranked ninth).

“It’s one of the best tournaments in the province,” said Holy Cross coach Matt Lechasseur. “Most of the top teams were there so it was very competitive. It was a great weekend of the basketball and the kids all played hard.

“The guys wanted to win it – they expected to win it. We know we can play at this level and I think the guys are starting to buy into the style of play we want to play and what’s going to make us successful. We came up short at the end, but it was still a good weekend for us.”

Holy Cross opened the festivities with a solid 64-58 win over the Burnaby South Rebels. Point guard Jauquin Bennett-Boire led the charge with 17 points and 12 assists, while Henry Maduabueke and Jonathan Kongbo helped out the Holy Cross cause with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

The Crusaders passed a big test in Friday’s semifinal round as they overcame a raucous crowd and some silly errors late in the contest to prevail 74-65 over the host Terry Fox Ravens.

“It was a real hostile environment – it was pretty crazy,” Lechasseur said. “We made a bunch of mistakes at the end of regulation that really hurt us. We were up by six with a minute and a half left, but if you can think of any mistakes that can be made at the end of a game, we made them. Passes going through guys’ hands, bad fouls and things like that. The good thing was we regrouped in overtime and made the plays down the stretch to pull out the win.”

Maduabueke was the top Crusader on the scoresheet with 23 points, while Bennett-Boire added another 17.

The Crusaders’ run to the final ended in disappointment Saturday as another Coquitlam school, Gleneagle, picked up where the Ravens left off and posted a 59-52 win.

Bennett-Boire paced the Crusaders attack with 17 points while Maduabueke finished with 13.

“That was a tough game,” Lechasseur said. “Gleneagle has a very good team and they stay out of foul trouble, which is something we struggled with. Taylor Browne was in foul trouble for most of the weekend and that kind of hurt us. He’s a big part of our team and when he comes out of the game early, we kind of lose the flow of the game. We were within three with two minutes left and then they hit some free throws and that was that.” The Crusaders will be back on their home court in Fleetwood this weekend when they attempt to defend their title at the B.C. Catholics Championships.

The championship finals are set for Saturday with senior girls tipping off at 6 p.m. followed by the boys at 7:30 p.m.