It’s the opening weekend of the Senior Boys Basketball season and the #1 ranked team has already been upset. In their first game of the season at the Kodiak Klassic, the Holy Cross Crusaders (#1 quad A team in the province) lost a close one to Handsworth Royals 69-63.
The first quarter was close with Handsworth trying to establish their inside presence and Holy Cross doing their best to force tempo and cause turnovers. It was in the second quarter where Handsworth took control of the game. Showing composure against the Holy Cross pressure, the Royals came up with some timely 3-point shooting, and were able to build a 10 point lead going into the half.
Coming out of the half, the Crusaders began to impose their style of play on their opponent, forcing the Handsworth guards into costly turnovers and closing the lead to just three points (47-50). Holy Cross continued that pressure into the 4th, going on a 6-2 run (and taking a one point lead) before the Handsworth coaches called a timeout.
After that, the game was exactly what you would want to see: Athletes and coaches executing and making plays against the best competition. With the score tied and five minutes left in the game, a Handsworth guard dove out of bounds to save a ball to his teammate, who calmly finished a contested layup against two Holy Cross defenders – Handsworth up 57-55. The following possession, a Holy Cross guard fades away from his defender and hits a 3pt shot – Holy Cross up 58-57. Next possession, Handsworth barely breaks the half court pressure, drives to the basket for a layup and the foul – Handsworth up 58-60. Handsworth gets a stop, but as they’re transitioning up the floor, Holy Cross traps, steals an errant pass, and converts the layup – score tied 60-60 with a little over two minutes left. Next possession, Handsworth works their inside-out game to perfection and hit a 3pt shot that would prove to be the dagger. Holy Cross tried mightily, but could not make up the deficit.
The Handsworth coaching staff was very pleased with their ability to establish their style of play against one of the strongest teams in the province. “[We] got up for an 8:30am game against the #1 team in the province,” said Arman Amini, the Royals’ assistant coach. “We’ve got a very good team,” said Amini when discussing the Royals balanced roster, “We’re trying to make a name for ourselves.” Beating the #1 team in the province and then battling a strong Burnaby South team (ranked #5) in the quarterfinals is a pretty good way to accomplish that.
Two teams executing at this level this early in the season was not only a treat but also a preview of what can be expected this season in BC High School Boys Basketball: The parity and preparation of these teams will make for more exciting finishes.
MORE THAN A GAME
“Lose the game, but not the lesson” – This was the message from Holy Cross coaching staff to their players after the loss. While the coaches were a little disappointed with their team’s effort and very complimentary of the game plan put together by their opponent, they were easily able to put this loss into perspective. After the events of the week that lead up to this game, “The kids effort levels just weren’t where they should have been” said assistant coach Matt LeChasseur.
LeChasseur is referring to a serious medical emergency that occurred during his team’s opening game of the season. During the 1st quarter of their home opener against the Panorama Ridge Thunder, Panorama Ridge student-athlete Raphael Alcoreza collapsed in the school’s hallway. “They had to do CPR and use the defibrillator in order to resuscitate him,” a visibly shaken LeChasseur recounts. While the school continues to pray for the fallen player, the tragic incident has compelled the program to revisit their core values.
“The kids buy into our brotherhood concept and we really try to treat [one another] like family,” said LeChasseur, who comes from a family with seven kids and is a father of two. When discussing how his team deals with adversity, LeChasseur adds “we really get through these lows and highs together.”
Although the loss is obviously disappointing and a bit of a setback, the team, coaching staff, and the school has been compelled to put wins and losses into perspective while focusing on the important things in life: Friends, family, and community. With the approaching Winter Break being a time where teams will travel out of province to improve, the Holy Cross Crusaders will remain at home to re-establish and reconnect. “The basketball season’s schedule is so hectic and crazy, we find it best for us to spend time with each other and our families.” In an environment that is so focused on winning, it’s nice to be reminded of the value of sports.
The thoughts and prayers of BCSportsHub’s staff are with Raphael Alcoreza and his family, the Panorama Ridge and Holy Cross communities, and the larger basketball community.