SURREY—A friendly and competitive atmosphere flooded Holy Cross Regional Secondary as 11 high school teams came head-to-head in 2018’s B.C. Catholic Basketball Championship in January.

“The atmosphere is one of the best in the province,” said coach Matt LeChasseur, who led his Holy Cross boys’ team to victory for the third year in a row.

“If you were to think of the best energy and cheering and loud environment for a sporting event, that’s it. It’s pretty special.”

Nearly every Catholic high school in B.C. participated in the championship games this year, with basketball teams arriving in Surrey from as far as Kamloops and Kelowna. LeChasseur said there was standing room only in the gymnasium and the school even streamed the whole tournament online so parents could cheer their children from any distance.

The B.C. Catholic Basketball Championships started 30 years ago. B.C. Sports Hub has described the tournament as “one of the best high school basketball atmospheres in the province.”

“It’s grown to be quite popular,” said LeChasseur, who has seen community basketball fans with no connection to the school come to watch.

“It is a special tournament and people don’t get a chance to see that type of camaraderie and healthy competitiveness.”

The secret to healthy competition? LeChasseur said it’s all about the pre-game preparations: all teams gather for Mass at the church before getting out on the gym floor.

“It sets the tone that we’re going to be competitors on the floor, but when the game is over, we’re connected deeper than just basketball,” he said.

“At the centre of all we’re doing is Christ, and whether you go to Notre Dame or Holy Cross or Little Flower, we’re always going to be connected through him.”

In addition to the Holy Cross boys' victory, the girls’ team from St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Secondary also took home first place.