Crusaders won't be a surprise this year

MARK HUNTER / Kamloops Daily News
December 14, 2012 01:00 AM

Last December, the St. Ann's Crusaders senior boys basketball team surprised a lot of people in winning the Fulton Cup preseason city high school championship.

But the Crusaders know that every team is gunning for them at this year's tournament, which is scheduled to start Wednesday at the Tournament Capital Centre and TRU Gym.

"No one expected us to play like we did (in 2011), but you guys can expect us to play like that again - we're going to bring it," said senior guard Jeeven Bains, whose Crusaders will open against the Valleyview Vikings on Wednesday at 4:45 p.m. "Every other team is a lot stronger this year, we're aware. We're ready to bring our 'A' game."

The Fulton Cup is an annual tournament that brings together most of the region's high school teams for a three-day event. The 2012 Fulton Cup, the 13th annual, will feature 32 teams, eight in each of the four divisions - junior and senior girls, and junior and senior boys.

The games will start each day at noon, with 16 on schedule for all three days. The championship finals will be played Dec. 21, with the senior girls and junior boys title games at 6:30 p.m., and the junior girls and senior boys contests to start at 8:15 p.m.

Although Kamloops is the Tournament Capital of Canada, the Fulton Cup is unlike any of the city's basketball events.

Regardless of whether they are AAA, AA or A, each of the city's schools will be participating to some degree, along with teams from Chase, Ashcroft and Barriere. And all of the games will be played at either TRU or the TCC, the city's biggest venues for basketball.

"It's a little intimidating," said McKenna Pearce of the Valleyview senior squad. "There's so many more people who come to watch . . . and you get a bit of adrenaline playing in front of them."

"There's a little more pressure, though," noted teammate Courtney Maricle. "But it's fun."

The boys' senior side is considered wide open, despite the Crusaders coming in as defending champions.

St. Ann's is expected to be strong, as are the NorKam Saints, Vikings, Sa-Hali Sabres and Westsyde Whundas. The Chase Trojans, Ashcroft Rams and Barriere Cougars are the wild-cards right now.

"We're a decent team, pretty well-rounded with a decent bench," said Saints senior forward Austin LaBonte, whose team lost by four in last year's final. "I remember playing St. Ann's last year. We lost to them in the final, so we want to redeem ourselves against them."

The senior girls side is a little less crowded, with the South Kamloops Titans, the No. 1-ranked AAA team in B.C., the Sabres and the Saints expected to do well.

The Titans, who won the provincial championship last season, didn't compete at the 2011 Fulton Cup, but beat Sa-Hali in the 2010 final. The Sabres have won four of the last five Fulton Cups, with the 2010 loss the only blemish.

The Sabres will open against Barriere on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

"I don't know much about Barriere . . . and I typically don't look past the first game," said Sabres head coach Jody Vosper. "Ideally, we'd be back in the final this year against South Kam. . . . To get to them, we'd have to get through Barriere and NorKam, and NorKam gave us a really tough game in the final last year."

Although the Titans appear to be the pre-tournament favourite, the Sabres, who always are a provincial contender, appear strong this season, Vosper said.

"We have 12 players who can play," said the longtime coach. "We have depth unlike any year we've had before. For the past 10 years, we've had a provincial team player, and we don't have one this year. But we might be a bit stronger because we have a spread out team."

Organizers experimented with a junior tournament in 2010, and added a six-team junior draw last year. There will be a full junior draw this year, with 16 teams battling for city bragging rights.

"We're pretty excited," said Valleyview junior Hannah Bergman. "I think the team is going to do really good this year."

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The tournament, as always, is sponsored by Fulton and Company and run by the provincial AA tournament committee.

Fulton and Co. has provided all the awards for the tournament, along with half the money for the bursaries. The provincial committee, which runs the annual tournament each March, provides the other half.

Over the past 15 years, more than $70,000 has been doled out in bursaries during the Fulton Cup and the provincial tournaments.

mhunter@kamloopsnews.ca

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SENIOR

GIRLS

Wednesday, Dec. 19

Noon - South Kamloops Titans vs. Ashcroft Rams (TRU).

1:30 p.m. - Sa-Hali Sabres vs. Barriere Cougars (TCC).

4:45 p.m. - Westsyde Whundas vs. St. Ann's Crusaders (TCC).

8 p.m. - NorKam Saints vs. Valleyview Vikings (TCC).

Thursday, Dec. 20

Consolation semifinals - 1:30 p.m. (TCC) and 3:15 p.m. (TRU)

Championship semifinals - 4:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. (both TCC).

Friday, Dec. 21

Noon - Seventh-place game, TCC.

3:15 p.m. - Bronze-medal game, TCC.

4:45 p.m. - Fifth-place game, TRU.

6:30 p.m. - Gold-medal game, TCC.

BOYS

Wednesday, Dec. 19

1:30 p.m. - NorKam Saints vs. Chase Trojans (TCC).

3:15 p.m. - Sa-Hali Sabres vs. Ashcroft Rams (TRU).

4:45 p.m. - Valleyview Vikings vs. St. Ann's Crusaders (TCC).

8 p.m. - Westsyde Whundas vs. Barriere Cougars (TCC).

Thursday, Dec. 20

Consolation semifinals - Noon (TRU) and 1:30 p.m. (TCC).

Championship semifinals - 4:45 p.m., and 8 p.m. (both TCC).

Friday, Dec. 21

Noon - Seventh-place game, TCC.

1:30 p.m. - Fifth-place game, TRU.

4:45 p.m. - Bronze-medal game, TCC.

8:15 p.m. - Gold-medal game, TCC.

JUNIOR

GIRLS

Wednesday, Dec. 19

Noon - South Kamloops Titans vs. Kamloops Christian Eagles (TCC).

1:45 p.m. - Sa-Hali Sabres vs. Ashcroft Rams (TRU).

3:15 p.m. -St. Ann's Crusaders vs. NorKam Saints (TCC).

6:30 p.m. - Valleyview Vikings vs. Westsyde Whundas (TCC).

Thursday, Dec. 20

Consolation semifinals - Noon and 3:15 p.m. (both TCC).

Championship semifinals - 5 p.m. (TRU) and 6:30 p.m. (TCC).

Friday, Dec. 21

Noon - Seventh-place game, TRU.

1:45 p.m. - Fifth-place game, TCC.

3:15 p.m. - Bronze-medal game, TCC.

8 p.m. - Gold-medal game, TCC.

BOYS

Wednesday, Dec. 19

Noon - South Kamloops Titans vs. Ashcroft Rams (TCC).

3:15 p.m. - NorKam Saints vs. Barriere Cougars (TCC).

5 p.m. - St. Ann's Crusaders vs. Valleyview Vikings (TRU).

6:30 p.m. - Sa-Hali Sabres vs. Westsyde Whundas (TCC).

Thursday, Dec. 20

Consolation semifinals - Noon (TCC) and 1:45 p.m. (TRU).

Championship semifinals - 3:15 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. (TCC).

Friday, Dec. 21

1:45 p.m. - Seventh-place game, TCC

3:15 p.m. - Fifth-place game, TRU

3:15 p.m. - Bronze-medal game, TCC

6:30 p.m. - Gold-medal game, TCC.


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