The Vanier Crusaders are losers no more.
After posting losses at two recent weekend tourneys, the team bounced back with a pair of wins to start the Super Hoops season.
The Crusaders opened up the local season with 59-51 squeaker over the Porter Creek Rams Monday and a 70-42 win over the FH Collins Warriors Tuesday after half the team went 0-3 in Skagway’s Don Hather tourney while the other half went 2-3, splitting a pair of exhibition games, in Mission, BC.
“I thought my starters in the first quarter played really well,” said Crusaders head coach Sean McCarron of Tuesday’s win. “We concentrated on not letting Dylan (Salvisberg) get the ball down low – he’s their big man and one of the best players in Whitehorse. We did a really good job crowding the key and rebounding against him.
“On offence, we moved the ball really well. That’s one of our strengths.
“We don’t have a ton of superstars, but every kid contributes to the team.”
The Crusaders jumped out to a 22-5 lead over the Warriors by the end of the first quarter with the final four points coming in consecutive steals converted to layups from game MVP Gerard New.
“He flourishes in the open floor, he’s great with the fast breaks, he’s crafty with the ball, he has a lot of confidence when it’s one-on-one,” said McCarron. “The first five minutes I saw him play, I knew one of our goals was going to be to push the ball to get him in the open floor.”
Not helping the Warriors was the absence of team captain Riley Simpson-Fowler, the only Whitehorse player to surpass 60 points over three games in Skagway, who was away with his dance crew Groundwork Sessions.
“Not having somebody who’s supposed to be the team captain makes a big difference,” said Warriors head coach Jamie Shaw. “I’m not sure if the team used it as an excuse, but we came out really flat. It was a brutal start and Vanier came out and took it to us.”
Monday’s win over the Rams came in a more dramatic fashion with the Crusaders dropping a 10-point, first quarter lead, eventually falling behind 32-25 on a three-point shot from Rams co-captain Cameron Weeks. However, the Crusaders took back the lead for the final time in the fourth quarter at 48-47 on a jump shot from Matt Pollard.
“We haven’t played against a lot of pressure, so when Porter Creek started to pressure us with their 1-3-1 half-court trap, it flustered us,” said McCarron. “We made some adjustments at halftime and that changed the game. We didn’t turn the ball over as much and slowly got the lead back.
“We knew they were going to trap, and we haven’t worked on any of that stuff before, so I’m glad they trapped.”
Leading the way was Vanier’s Rowan Huggart with 13 points, including four three-pointers, while Dylan Salvisberg of the Warriors was his team’s top scorer with 11 points.
Against the Rams, who were the only Whitehorse squad to go undefeated in Skagway, Huggart was again the top scorer with 14 points.
Vanier teams with opposite starts of season
The Crusader girls are still looking for a win.
After going winless in Skagway, the girls opened Super Volley with a 63-29 loss to the Rams Monday and a 52-25 loss to the Warriors the following night.
“For us it’s kind of a building year, we don’t have a lot of returning players,” said Crusaders head coach Nicole Morgan. “I have a couple of junior players who have moved up – Robyn Fortune and Sabrina Clarke, they are Grade 11s, who have come up – but from last year’s team there’s one player: Avery Enzenauer.
“I like to think we’ll be the most improved team by the end of the year because we have lots of room for improvement and that’s our mission right now.
“Offence is a problem – 25 points is not going to cut it.”
Making things tougher for the Crusaders on Tuesday was the return of Warrior starters Savanna Leary, along with Dahria Beatty and Kendra Murray, both of whom were competing in a cross-country skiing competition in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
While Beatty was her team’s top scorer with 17 points, Grade 10 player Markie Bailie was the game’s MVP with 10 points.
“We’re trying to teach her a new position, we’re trying to make her a point-guard,” said Warriors head coach Ann Jirousek. “Usually we pull up one or two or three from the junior level, because in order for them to develop at the rate they’re going, they have to be pulled up to senior.”
Applying fast break after fast break, most of which had Rams co-captain Shannon Thompson on the scoring end, finishing with 26 points, Porter Creek ended the first half up 36-14 on Monday.
“Our defence was super effective and it was good to see that work well,” said Rams head coach Trevor Hale. “And the girls really responded to fast breaks off the steals.
“They finally got it in their head that if you want fast breaks, you have to play good defence – you have to get the steals.”
Monday’s game MVP went to Jenna Blanchette.
Contact Tom Patrick at