With the vast majority of the 600-plus fans cheering against them, the Immaculata Mustangs faced their share of adversity on Saturday at Holy Cross High School.
When all was said and done, the Mustangs rose to the occasion with a 50-49 victory over St. Thomas More to win their second consecutive B.C. Catholics high school girls basketball championship.
“This was a great test for our girls,” said Mustangs’ assistant coach Brian Grant. “Playing in that type of hostile environment, with that type of pressure can’t be duplicated in practice.
“Our girls fought hard to preserve the win and maintain their No. 1 provincial ranking.”
The Mustangs, the top-ranked team in B.C. at the AA level, took down their first two opponents with ease, defeating Arch Bishop Carney 68-20 and St. Thomas Aquinas 75-31.
In the B.C. Catholics final, the Mustangs jumped out to a 15-point lead at the half, but uncharacteristically missed nine layups in the third quarter.
With their fans energized, STM rallied back to make a game of it in the fourth, before the Mustangs hung on at the end for the one-point win.
Tournament MVP and first all-star Ashlyn Day had 22 of her game high 27 points in the first half.
Guard Kate Johnson was solid on defence, helping limit STM star guard Zion Corrales Nelson to just nine points.
Nicole Hart, a presence at both ends of the floor, was named to the first all-star team and earned top defensive player honours.
Grade 10 Mackenzie Horst played a key role in the final and was named a second team all-star, while Amanda Grant played her trademark hustling game, beating opponents to balls and pulling down backside rebounds.
It was Immaculata’s fourth B.C. Catholics title, having won in 2003, 2004, 2015 and 2016.
The Mustangs’ next tournament action is the Best of the West tourney Jan. 29 and 30 at KSS.