Brianna Yelle of the Holy Cross Crusaders dribbles the ball in a game earlier this month. The Crusaders will host the Fraser Valley Senior AA girls championship tournament this weekend.

Brianna Yelle of the Holy Cross Crusaders dribbles the ball in a game earlier this month. The Crusaders will host the Fraser Valley Senior AA girls championship tournament this weekend.

Home court edge for Holy Cross

Surrey school hosts Senior AA girls Fraser Valley championships

The Holy Cross Crusaders are hoping home court advantage will send both their senior girls and senior boys basketball teams to provincial championship tournaments.

The Surrey school is hosting the eight-team Fraser Valley Senior AA girls championship this week, as well as four games of the Senior 4A boys tournament Friday and Monday. The Crusaders are favoured to qualify for the B.C. championships in both categories.

The girls squad is ranked ninth in the province among Senior AA teams, but are the top-ranked squad in the Fraser Valley. But head coach Steve Beauchamp isn’t looking past anyone at the four-day Fraser Valley tournament.

“Parity amongst the top teams continues to be the theme as any team can win on any given day,” he said. “You should expect some upsets.”

Only three teams will advance to the provincial championships, leaving little room for error. As the host team, the Crusaders plan to take advantage of playing at home.

“Our school has a long tradition of hosting tournaments, and our minor officials and volunteers do a superb job,” said Beauchamp. “We hope many students, parents and alumni will be out to support our team to help provide a little bit of a home court advantage.”

The Crusaders played their first game yesterday (Wednesday) and defeated Pitt Meadows Secondary 63-50. Holy Cross will play G.W. Graham in a semifinal game tonight.

A young Holy Cross team has just four players in their Grade 12 year, including guard Nicole Vander Helm, a first-team all-star a year ago at the B.C. Senior AAA championships in Langley.

Among the Grade 11s is Maria Palmegiani, a Dream Team selection at the Surrey Fire Fighters Goodwill Classic in January.

The Senior 4A boys Fraser Valley Championship tournament began yesterday (Wednesday) with 16 teams playing in single-knockout games.

The eight survivors advanced to face eight seeded teams tomorrow (Friday) at four locations, including Holy Cross where the host Crusaders will play at 8:15 p.m. against an opponent to be determined. It will be the second of two senior boys games played at the school.

Holy Cross will also host a pair of second round games Monday, before the tournament moves to the Langley Events Centre Thursday through Saturday of next week.

The Crusaders are seeded third for the Fraser Valley tournament, and are favoured to be among the six teams to qualify for the B.C. Championships next month at the Langley Events Centre.

Last season, the Crusaders made an impressive run to the B.C. championship game, losing 67-64 to the Winston Churchill Bulldogs.

“After our second place finish last season, many believed we would not be back competitive this year,” said head coach Matt Lechasseur.

“But have been ranked provincially most the season and have beat top five teams on numerous occasions this year.”

The Crusaders are led by Grade 12 player Taylor Browne, who netted 58 points in a single game earlier this season.

After two days of regional playoffs earlier this week, 12 teams have advanced to the Senior AAA girls Fraser Valley Championships at Gleneagle Secondary in Coquitlam.

The Fleetwood Park Dragons and Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers have been eliminated from championship contention, but are still playing for a top-five placing and a berth to the provincial playoffs.

The Panthers, seeded ninth, tip-off against the 10th-seed Elgin Park Orcas tonight (Thursday) at 6:30 p.m.

Fleetwood Park, seeded fifth, will play at 8:15 p.m. against the 14th-ranked Walnut Grove Gators.

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