It was a bad night for St. Thomas at the Holy Cross gym Saturday.
Home court advantage paid off in a big way for the host Crusaders as they rolled to a sweep of the finals of the 2013 B.C. Catholic Basketball Championships. The Holy Cross boys knocked off St. Thomas More 57-44 to win their second Catholic title in three years while the Crusader girls extended their Catholic school dynasty to seven years by downing St. Thomas Aquinas 46-37.
"This is always a great tournament and it's a part of the fabric at Holy Cross," said girls coach Steve Beauchamp. "It's a big event for the school every year and then to win it - whether it's your first time or your seventh time - is always exciting and a real compliment to the kids. It's not an old habit and it's something we look forward to every year."
Holy Cross senior boys' coach Matt Lechasseur added the atmosphere in the gym was unlike anything he had seen before at the school.
"It's nerve wracking playing at home in this tournament because it's so loud and the atmosphere is crazy," he said. "The guys knew something was different about this game when they delayed the start because people were standing on the basketball court. It took five or six minutes for people to readjust so we could get the game started. Word is getting out that we have two pretty good teams and now people want to come out and watch."
The Holy Cross girls are currently ranked No. 1 in the province among class AA schools while the boys are slotted in at No. 2 in their rankings.
In girls' competition last weekend, Holy Cross dumped Little Flower Academy 66-11 in their opener and then survived a brief scare from Immaculata before prevailing 59-23 in the semifinals.
Saturday's final against St. Thomas Aquinas saw the Crusaders build a healthy halftime lead only to have STA chip away at the deficit in the third quarter. Holy Cross regained their momentum with a couple of timely shots early in the final frame and were content to trade baskets the rest of the way to seal the win.
"I'm not surprised at all that it was a competitive final," Beauchamp said. "A lot of the kids on both teams have been playing against each other in the Catholic school system since elementary school so they know each other pretty good."
Nicole Vander Helm led the way with 13 points while Amy Sprangers and Rachel Beauchamp chipped in with 12 and 10, respectively. All three were named to the tournament's first all-star team along with teammate Michelle Bos.
Sprangers was named the tournament's top defensive player and Steve Beauchamp singled out Sam Beauchamp (no relation) and Alli Buck for their contributions in the tourney.
Meanwhile on the other side of the draw, the Holy Cross boys were making some noise of their own. The Crusaders tamed the St. Jean Brebeuf Bears 76-41 in their opener and then topped Archbishop Carney 56-39 in Friday's semifinal.
Saturday's title game was a date with a familiar foe in the form of Burnaby's St. Thomas More, but Lechasseur insisted the rivalry between the two schools did not add any extra emotion for either team.
"Our guys really raised their game in the final, but they didn't need a rival to do it," he said. "The stage was pretty big and they stepped up to it very well. People talk about our rivalry with St. Thomas More but to be honest, anytime we play a Catholic school, it's game on.
"If anything, we're building decent rivalries with a bunch of different schools like Notre Dame and Archbishop Carney."
When the game finally got underway, Holy Cross dominated under the glass, out-rebounding the Knights by more than 20 boards en route to the 13 point win.
Aaron Madaisky and Henry Maduabueke each averaged a dozen rebounds per game in the tourney and both we named to the first all-star team along with guard Taylor Brown.
Seb Jacob was a second team selection.
Madaisky was honoured as the tournament MVP and Stanley Maduabueke - Henry's twin brother - was the top defensive player.