Crusaders surprised, but grateful for top seed


Ray Hamill/ – The St. Bernard’s girls open the NorCals at home to Western Sierra on Tuesday night.

(UPDATED with news of forfeit by Western Sierra)

By Ray Hamill — The St. Bernard’s Crusaders have landed in a better position than they had expected, and they’re certainly not complaining about it.

The Crusaders, who won their fourth North Coast Section crown in five years on Saturday night, were handed the top seed in Division V for the NorCal tournament, which tips off on Tuesday.

And precisely because of that NCS championship win on Saturday, the following day’s announcement came as a bit of a surprise, to say the least.

“Getting the one seed was shocking,” head coach Mark Gardner said. “But we’re very happy for it and grateful for it.”

Because of the open division in the NorCals, mot teams get bumped up a level after the section tournament, especially when they win a championship.

Last season, after losing the NCS Division-V final, the Crusaders were moved up to Division-IV and handed an eight seed.

So after Saturday’s win, to remain in the lower bracket was unusual.

“It was not expected, but that being said, seedings don’t win championships,” Gardner said.

The top seeding does, however, guarantee more home games, as long as the Crusaders keep winning, and traveling all the way to Humboldt County for any team is a challenge all on its own.

The St. Bernard’s girls were scheduled to open against Western Sierra out of Rocklin, but the Wolves forfeited late on Monday, saying they were unable to secure transportation for the game.

For more on the forfeit, see Western Sierra forfeits NorCal game with St. Bernard’s …

The Crusaders will now host either University or Notre Dame on Thursday.

The coaching staff certainly had their players ready to play on Saturday, as the Crusaders comfortably dismantled Cloverdale by a score of 56-36, quickly taking control of the game and never relenting.

Cloverdale received the No. 4 seed in the same NorCal bracket.

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