The Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders senior basketball teams have different paths ahead of them at this weekend’s 5A boys and girls rural regional tournament as they try to qualify for next weekend’s Hoopla tournament in Saskatoon.
The cross-town rivals will be playing against each other in the boys quarter-final in Yorkton Friday, in what will be just their second meeting of the season.
The Crusaders’ girls team are the host team and the number one seed at their tournament, as they have earned a bye to the semifinal round and will play either the fourth-ranked Marauders or the fifth-seeded Lloydminster Comprehensive Barons.
The quarter-final matchup between the Marauders and Barons will take place at 5:45 p.m. Friday
Girls 5A Regional
Although the Crusaders have reached their goal of being the top-ranked team for the tournament and only having to win one game to reach Hoopla, they aren’t resting on their laurels.
“We’ve looked at the teams that we can potentially face and we’ve prepared our best strategy for them,” Crusaders coach Kelsey Pearson said. “We’ve been focused on getting ready for anything that might come our way this weekend.
“All of the hard work the girls have put in has led to this point. If we can play like we have this season, I think we should be fine.”
While the Crusaders will have to wait until 10 a.m. to take to the floor on Saturday, the Marauders open up the tournament with their win or go home game.
“Even though the games are at Carlton, I feel like it’s a home court advantage for both teams,” Marauders coach Dwayne Gareau said. “We get to stay in our own beds and we don’t have to worry about travelling down the highways or eating at restaurants all weekend.
“We have a good core of senior and younger players on our roster and I think we’ve really gelled together heading into this weekend.”
The Weyburn Eagles and Yorkton Raiders will play in the other quarter-final game at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the winner playing the Swift Current Ardens in the semifinal round at 11:45 a.m. Saturday.
The tournament final will take place at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
Boys 5A Regional
With their last head-to-head meeting coming in the annual Food Bank Game prior to Christmas, there’s not a lot that the Crusaders and Marauders can look back on as they prepare to play each other in the quarter-final round in Yorkton at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“It’s pretty interesting that we are going to be driving all that way just to play each other, but that’s just the way that the bracket worked out this year,” Marauders coach Dave Seto said. “We’ve been at a lot of the same tournaments over the course of the season, but we never ended up crossing paths.”
“We know that we can beat them as we won that game, but a lot of time has passed since that game and you just have to move on from it,” Crusaders coach Tim Strom added.
Both coaches are confident in their team’s chances to advance to the semifinal round on Saturday, as they will face either the top-ranked Barons or the eighth-seeded Balgonie Greenall Griffins for a Hoopla berth.
“There’s always a worry that things might stagnate a little bit after a long season, but that hasn’t been the case for our guys at all,” Strom said. “We’re coming off a couple of big wins over Meadow Lake, who we had lost to twice this season, so that’s added some confidence.”
“We’ve played some of our best basketball over the last month, which is exciting to see,” Seto added. “This is exactly what you are hoping for as you get ready for Hoopla.”
The other side of the bracket will see second-seeded Estevan Elecs taking on the seventh-ranked Swift Current Colts, while the third-ranked Raiders will welcome the sixth-seeded North Battleford Comprehensive Vikings to town.
Golden Bears in Regina
The Prince Albert Collegiate Institute Golden Bears are the 15th seed for the girls’ 3A regional round, as they will take on the hosts and second-ranked Regina Christian Grizzlies on Friday.
If they were to win that game, they will take on Unity or Oxbow in the regional final.
This year’s Hoopla tournament runs from March 21-23 in Saskatoon.