Led by the “unbelievable” leadership of a veteran, a young Holy Cross Crusaders team are Fraser Valley champions.
Winning three consecutive games on their home court, the Crusaders clinched the Fraser Valley Senior AA high school girls basketball championship Saturday night, defeating the Rick Hansen Hurricanes 63-53.
“It was a very good tournament for the team,” said Holy Cross head coach Steve Beauchamp. “It was the first Fraser Valley tournament for most of our players who play significant minutes. And we got a little better each game.”
One player who had played – and excelled – at the Fraser Valley tournament before was Nicole Vander Helm. The Crusaders Grade 12 guard was a Most Valuable Player (MVP) at last year’s Fraser Valley Senior AAA tournament, and a first-team all-star and the B.C. championships.
She stepped up her game last week, scoring 39 points in a 63-50 victory over the Pitt Meadows Marauders Wednesday, and netting 47 in Thursday’s 71-62 win over the G.W. Graham Grizzlies.
On Saturday night, she continued to dominate, scoring 42 points while grabbing 24 rebounds and a second Fraser Valley MVP award.
Naomi Vinluan of the Crusaders, a Grade 11 guard, was a first-team all-star.
Other standouts for Holy Cross at the tournament included Grade 11 forward Grace Sloan for her defensive play against the top scorers from the opposition, and Grade 10 Georgia Whalley, who stepped up with 18 rebounds in the championship game.
The Crusaders will play at the B.C. Championships March 4-7 at the Langley Events Centre.
Beauchamp expects the Crusaders to be seeded third or fourth as Fraser Valley champions.
“There’s definitely Duchess Park (Condors from Prince George) and Immaculata (Mustangs of Kelowna) at the top, they’ve been one-two all year,” said Beauchamp. “But after that, from third through 14th, there is a lot of parity. Different teams have won games you wouldn’t expect.”