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  • Writer's pictureGary Ahuja

Crusaders, Fighting Irish repeat as Catholic champions



The Holy Cross Crusaders used a strong second half to repeat at as the BC Catholic Basketball champions in the senior girls division, defeating the St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights on Jan. 20 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag photo


The players may have changed, but the champions remain the same.


The Holy Cross Crusaders and Vancouver College Fighting Irish each successfully defended their respective tournament titles at the 2024 BC Catholic Basketball Championships. The tournament concluded on Saturday at Langley Events Centre with the championship and bronze-medal games for both senior girls and boys.


In the girls’ final, the Crusaders were down a point in the fourth quarter before closing on a 12-2 run to prevail 49-41 over the St. Thomas More Collegiate Knights.


“The difference was our defence and our two bigs,” said Holy Cross coach Joseph Vinluan, referencing 5-11 forward Solene Jackson and 6-0 forward Alyssia Palma. “They really worked the paint.”


After opening with the game’s first five points, Holy Cross trailed for the rest of the half with the Knights ahead 25-19 at the half. But the Crusaders turned things around with a dominant third quarter as they outscored their foe 18-7 for a five-point lead.


The advantage was short-lived, however, as St. Thomas More Collegiate opened the final frame with eight of the next 10 points for a slim 40-39 lead. But the Crusaders quickly regained the lead and Chloe Mangalindan followed up with a three to put her team up 44-40 and the Knights had no answer.


The victory marked a second straight Catholic title for the Holy Cross senior girls, and this one was done with a significant amount of Grade 10s.


“This means a lot. We are coming with a group which is a lot of Grade 10s (so) having them win something and put it under their belts, they will grow from this.”


And it was the Grade 10s leading the way in Saturday’s final as Palma was named Most Valuable Player while Isla Iannuzzi scored 13 points while Jackson chipped in with a dozen.


For the Knights, Mia Beliveua had a game-high 17 points – including four three-pointers – while Demicah Arnaldo added 14.


Boys Championship Final



The Vancouver College Fighting Irish repeated as champions at the 2024 BC Catholic Basketball Championships, defeating the St. Patrick Celtics on Jan. 20 at Langley Events Centre. Ryan Molag photo


In the boys’ championship final, the Vancouver College Fighting Irish proved to be too much in the second half against the St. Patrick Celtics.


Ahead by a single point at the break, the Fighting Irish held the Celtics to a single field goal and just five points in the third quarter, extending their advantage to eight points in what became a 58-45 victory.

 

“Our depth really paid off. We roll 12 deep. I told the guys at the half that we would continue to wear them down because we are deeper. We had 12 guys coming at them and had the energy the whole game and we wore them down in the third and fourth quarter,” explained Vancouver College coach Ryan Shams.


The Irish used a balanced scoring attack as 6-5 forward led the way with a dozen points and he was one of our players with at least nine in the game with 6-5 forward Alex Galin leading the way with those dozen. That was followed by 11 points courtesy of guard Vince Velasquez, who would win the Most Valuable Player award.


The Celtics’ Jakobi Matalabos led his team with 13 points while Jovin Sunner added 12.

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