Their plan was to slow down the Holy Cross Crusaders in the championship game of the Surrey Fire Fighters’s Goodwill Classic.
And for the first 20 minutes, the Fleetwood Park Dragons were able to do that.
But in the second half Saturday night at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, the tournament favorites wore down the Dragons for a 76-47 victory to win their second all-Surrey senior girls high school basketball tournament in three years.
“I think there were a few plays where we made some defensive errors,” said Fleetwood Park co-coach Pam Reynolds. “They almost always score when you make an error so you have to be on your A-game all the time. We did what we could, I’m proud of the girls.”
The Crusaders, ranked third in the Senior AAA provincial poll, raced out to a 29-9 lead midway through the first half. Fleetwood Park, ranked just outside the top 10 in the provincial poll with an honorable mention, cut the difference to 38-25 by halftime and went on a seven-point run early in the second half to pull within nine at 45-36.
But Holy Cross closed the door, outscoring the Dragons 21-3 over the next five minutes to put the game well out of reach and avoid a second consecutive loss to the Dragons in the Fire Fighters’ final.
“We certainly mentioned it to the girls a few times, that things didn’t go the way we wanted last year,” said Crusaders head coach Steve Beauchamp, adding it wasn’t about beating Fleetwood Park. “Even if it had been Lord Tweedsmuir or Elgin Park in the final, it was about putting our best effort forward and showing what kind of team we are.”
By winning their three games by an average of 40 points, the Crusaders showed plenty at the six-day Firefighters competition.
In an 82-37 win over the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers in a semifinal game Friday night, Holy Cross was led by 15 points from Nicole Vander Helm, 14 from Rachel Beachamp, 13 from Maria Palmegiani, and 10 from Amy Sprangers.
Fleetwood Park won their semifinal game by a 61-31 margin over the Elgin Park Orcas. Grewal tallied 22 points for the Dragons with Jordyn Doi and Sonia Sahota adding eight each.
Devi Bauckmann, Claire Eccles and Annie Hall had seven points each for the Orcas.
Michelle Bos paced the Crusaders in the championship game with 18 points. The two Beauchamp sisters each put up 13 points while Vander Helm added a dozen.
“The Fire Fighters always has had a special spot with us,” said coach Beauchamp. “Bragging rights for Surrey is always fun, especially when you consider how big the district is.”
Simran Grewal was the lone Dragons player to score in double digits in the championship game, netting 13 points.
The Dragons, said Reynolds, did their best to keep pace with Holy Cross but came up short.
“The key was to stop their transition,” she said. “They’re extremely tall and very athletic. We wanted to slow them down and try to contain them. I thought we did a good job in the first half, but fell off a bit in the second.”
Vander Helm had her name called three times during the awards ceremony that followed the final game. She collected the Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the Best Defensive Player awards, and also won the three-point contest.
Rachel Beauchamp received the Most Inspirational Player award, named after her late sister Tessa Beauchamp.
The Enver Creek Cougars won the Ladder Division (Tier 2) title, topping the Surrey Christian Falcons 47-36. Jennifer Russell with 15 points and Harleen Atwal with 14 were the leading scorers for Enver Creek, while Megan Leite netted 12 for the Falcons.
Russell was the Ladder Division’s MVP. The Dream Team all-stars included Maggie Castillo of Princess Margaret, Grewal of Fleetwood Park, Grace Zacharuk of the Fraser Heights Firehawks, Samantha Beauchamp of Holy Cross, Keerti Jhutti of the Tamanawis Wildcats, Gurpreet Tung of the Panorama Ridge Thunder, Claire Niehbur of the Earl Marriott Mariners, Desirae Villanueva of the North Surrey Sparans, Cyrille Butac of Fleetwood Park and Katie Czenczek of the Guildford Park Sabres.
Guildford Park won the Al Haynes award as the Most Sportsmanlike Team.