VSS Panthers strike provincial silver

Vernon Panthers fall to Holy Cross Crusaders in B.C. Senior AA Girls Basketball Championships in Kamloops.

Jessica Harvey

Jessica Harvey

A year ago, the Holy Cross Crusaders of Surrey reached the final four before getting upset.

Going for gold was their mind-set at the 2013 B.C. Senior AA Girls Basketball Championships in Kamloops, and they did so by dominating the field.

After a one-sided first-round victory, the Crusaders won their final three games by an average of 30 points, including a 69-37 victory over the VSS Panthers in Saturday’s final.

A 62-40 semifinal win over the Wellington Wildcats of Nanaimo was the No. 1-ranked Crusaders’ closest game in the Sweet 16.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well Friday or Saturday,” Holy Cross head coach Steve Beauchamp told Black Press Sports. “But the kids did it on the defensive end.”

With all five starters returning, including the provincial MVP and three all-stars, the Crusaders will likely begin next season as the overwhelming favourites.

“After Saturday’s game, people were already asking about next season,” said Beauchamp. “But we haven’t looked that far ahead, yet. This win was a long time coming, it was a very satisfying tournament.”

Tournament MVP Michele Bos saw 31 minutes of floor time and led the Crusaders with 16 points and 14 rebounds in the gold-medal game.

All-stars Rachel Beauchamp (14 points), Amy Sprangers (12) and Nicole Vander Helm (10) supported the Holy Cross offence.

Karley Fugel played 29 minutes for the Panthers and finished with 11 points and nine boards, making the all-star team. Jessica Harvey racked up eight points and eight rebounds coming off the bench, while Jenna Marrion collected seven points.

All-star Quinsy Leier got in 32 minutes and could only drain a pair of free throws under tight marking, adding seven rebounds. Ashtyn Mckenzie dialed up five points and eight rebounds as a substitute.

“They keyed on Quinsy,” said Bobby Mitchell, Panther co-coach with Lonny Mazaruk. “Quinsy had a strong week and a strong year. She made the right moves while being keyed on, making some smart passes and playing great defence.”

Holy Cross gained 36 points off turnovers, including 15 in the first quarter. Both teams netted 24 points in the paint, while Vernon’s bench managed 13 points to the Crusaders’ dozen.

“We’re disappointed,” said Mitchell. “We let things get away for us early in the second (quarter) when they went on a 14-0 run. It’s a little sad for our Grade 12s, but we can reflect on a pretty good year. That (Holy Cross) is a very good team. They could have competed in Triple A and won that title.”

Vanessa Botteselle of North Vancouver’s St. Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints was named the Top Defensive Player. The Duchess Park Condors of Prince George, who placed fifth, took the Most Sportsmanlike Team award.