Crusaders top the Tigers in exciting tournament decider

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Action from Saturday’s championship game at Arcata High.

The Crusaders made quite a statement in a thrilling early-season game on Saturday, rallying to knock off the Tigers in the Arcata tournament championship game by a score of 71-62.

In an exciting game of streaks, St. Bernard’s trailed by as many as 12 points at one stage, but got the better of exchanges for much of the second half and outscored the host school 19-10 in the fourth quarter.

“That was just a great early season game,” said St. Bernard’s head coach Augie Valdez, who matched up against his former Hoopa High coach Doug Oliveira. “It was just a great game between two teams that play a similar style.”

The Crusaders started the game on fire and led 26-22 after a high scoring first quarter.

SB widened the gap early in the second quarter, but the Tigers battled back and closed out the half by far the stronger of the two teams.

“It was a classic game of runs,” Oliveira said. “They outlasted us. We made some early-season mistakes and they capitalized. They’re  a good team.”

The Crusaders don’t have a whole lot of depth on their bench with just eight players on their roster, but they have some top talent and all eight players are significant contributors.

Lele Tanuvasa capped three big days at the tournament with a game-high 28 points and was named tourney MVP.

The junior standout also dished out several court-long assists to freshman Laila Florvilus, who kept catching the Arcata defense off guard with her streaking runs down court and added 22 points on some composed finishing.

The standout freshman was also named to the all-tournament team along with teammate Emma Wilson.

Lele Tanuvasa

The Arcata bench reacts during Saturday’s game.

Madelyn Shanahan added 11 points in the win, while Wilson finished with seven.

“Defensively I thought we did an okay job, but offensively we did very well today,” Valdez said. “Once again it was a real good team effort. The kids, they don’t give up. They really dug deep and really believed in themselves.”

Alia Prentiss had a big game for the Tigers, who suffered their first loss of the season and dropped to 3-1.

Prentiss has stepped up big-time early in the season and scored 22 points on Saturday and was included on the all-tournament team.

“Alia has been playing really well, and for a sophomore to step in and do what she’s done is pretty incredible,” Oliveira said.

Submitted photo – The Crusaders celebrate their championship win.

Olivia Railsback added 12 points for Arcata and was also named to the all-tournament team.

Another sophomore, Nora Talty, also had a good tournament for the Tigers off the bench, while junior teammate Caroline Dieker has come up with several key blocks in the past two games.

“Arcata is a good team and coach (Oliveira) has them playing super hard, which is no surprise,” Valdez said.

Next up, the Crusaders will play at the Mt. Shasta tournament, while the Tigers will travel to play at the Redwood Invitational at Healdsburg.

Both tournaments tip off on Thursday.

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