It was a wild weekend at BC Catholics. There was plenty of exciting, close games but in the end the two teams most people would have picked to lift the trophy at the end came out and delivered. Here's what happened on championship Saturday at Holy Cross.
Girls Final - Saint Thomas Aquinas vs Little Flower Academy
They’re the number one ranked team in AA girls basketball for a reason.
The Saint Thomas Aquinas Fighting Saints rolled to a BC Catholics title, winning every game by at least 29 and showing why they’re the team to beat in AA basketball.
Their opponents — the Little Flower Academy Angels — were a formidable opponent, keeping it close right up until the fourth quarter. After pulling off an upset against Saint Thomas More in the semi finals, the Fighting Saints and head coach John Prescott knew they were in for a battle.
“LFA has an incredible engine” said Prescott on his opponents in the final. “They have never quit kids, they work hard, they play at a great pace. But the big thing is they can hit shots. They can hit big shots at big times.
We knew that we had to match their pressure, take advantage of our size, but they are incredibly formidable opponents.”
The Angels got to within seven late in the third, before STA scored 17 straight unanswered to eventually win the game 72-41.
And although winning Catholics is always nice, Prescott knows bigger things are expected from his team moving into the rest of the season.
“I think it’s something that we can use to grow upon” Prescott explained on how this win sets up the rest of the season. “We’ve got big games down the road, we’ve got league, we’ve got qualifying championships and provincial championships down the road. I think this helps as a foundation piece to get us in that direction.”
Boys Final - Holy Cross Crusaders vs Vancouver College Fighting Irish
The BC Catholics tournament is unique in the high school basketball tournament landscape.
The fact that all the participants are fairly familiar with each other, sprinkled in with an electric atmosphere, makes it an incredible experience for players and fans alike. And the game between the Holy Cross Crusaders and the Vancouver College Fighting Irish certainly delivered on a promise of an entertaining final.
“This is the third time we’ve played them [this season], and it’s always meaningful” said Holy Cross head coach Anthony Pezzente on the burgeoning rivalry between the two programs. “But it means a little bit more here.
We had a pizza lunch for everyone on Wednesday and they were joking and talking, great camaraderie. But when they step on the court they want to win and compete and beat each other. And I love that. Basketball in this province, we compete but it’s a brotherhood.”
In front of an absolutely wild crowd, it was actually the visitors who raced out to a 7-2 lead. That was short lived however, as the Crusaders took the energy given to them by their fans and got to within one at the end of the first. The second quarter saw both teams trade buckets, ending in a 31-29 lead for VC.
The third quarter saw Holy Cross go on a 10-2 run, which also culminated in VC seemingly unable to make the shots that looked so routine in the first half. After a tense final few minutes, Holy Cross would hold on 64-59, much to the delight of the packed gym.
“We had to fight Toni in the post” explained Pezzente on what his team needed to do to pull off the W. “Toni is one of the best if not the best basketball player in the province. He’s incredible. He’s skilled, got great footwork, and we had to battle him.
Once the shot went up, we needed to team rebound because they’re just bigger than us. We did that in the second half, first half wasn’t great for us. We made some [shots] tonight to which really helped. We made them turn the ball over and played our game.”
It was an intense and emotional win for the top ranked team in Quad A at the moment. Pezzente was quick to say however that there is still much to play for the rest of the season.
“We got league coming up and league’s more important than any of this, because if you blow your league games what you do in these tournaments means nothing” he said. “But it sets us up pretty well. Again, we can’t get complacent. We got to keep working and got to keep getting better.
I think we played better last week at Terry Fox when we played them than tonight. But a win’s a win, sometimes you have to win ugly. I was very happy for the guys.”
Written by: Nick Bondi