Everyone wants to knock off the top ranked team, a situation that puts the Holy Cross Crusaders squarely in the crosshairs of rivals when the provincial class AA boys and girls basketball tournaments get begin in Kamloops tomorrow (March 6).
Holy Cross is blessed with a pair of powerhouse teams this season, both of which head to Kamloops saddled with the province's No. 1 ranking after dominant seasons.
"Absolutely we're the team everyone is out to beat," said Crusaders girls coach Steve Beauchamp. "We've beaten most of the teams in the Top 10 this year but that means that every one of those teams has game film on us now. "
The Crusaders senior girls squad is making its seventh consecutive trip to the provincial tournament and most of the players can draw on previous experience in the big dance. The Crusaders senior boys team is much less seasoned and is heading to Kamloops for the first time in three years.
Fortunately, head coach Matt LeChasseur has played and coached in the tournament before and will be busy advising his players on what to expect in the Cariboo city.
"The provincials are always tough and none of our guys have ever been there before," he said. "The first team we play is Charles Hayes (Prince Rupert) and we don't know anything about them.
"If we win that game we'll probably be facing St. Mike's (University School) in the second round. They were ranked number one earlier in the year so it won't be an easy path for us."
One of the teams looking to spoil the Crusaders season is league-rival Delview Raiders.
Led by provincial team point guard Wowie Untalan, the smallish Raiders showed big heart in winning their final three games of the Fraser Valley tournament to finish in third place and secure a provincial berth. Shooting guard Jaitan Rana and forward Jason Sideris also played prominent roles in the Raiders' charge to the B.C. tournament.
"This is huge for our guys," said Delview coach Vlad Nikic. "It's a great learning experience of course, but it's also a reward for the hard work they did all season long.
"We have one of the smallest teams in B.C. but we make up for it by outworking other teams. Hard work is the key - there's no other explanation for how we got this far."