The first tournament of a high school basketball season can always be a hectic time for any program.
That was especially true for the Carlton Crusaders this past weekend as they had two squads in a 12-team senior boys’ competition in their gym.
“One of the schools had to drop so we put together a team with some of our rookies and junior players,” Crusaders coach Tim Strom said.
“It made things a little bit busy, but I think that extra bit of playing time will be huge for those guys, especially as they move into key roles for our team in the coming years.”
The Crusaders’ main squad ended up winning the bronze medal on Saturday as they came back from a double-digit deficit to record an 84-64 triumph over the St. Mary Marauders.
“We were a little disappointed after losing an exciting semifinal to Norquay earlier in the day, but we were really happy with how the guys came back against St. Mary,” Strom said.
“I know it’s early on in the season, but I think one of our strengths at the moment is the consistency that we are showing on offence, along with the ability of our seniors to adapt on the fly if we need to change things up.”
As for the Marauders, who lost to the eventual tournament champions from Warman in the semifinal round, their fourth place result is going to be used as a building block for the rest of the campaign.
“We can see that the potential is there from our guys, which is all you can ask for at the start of the season,” said Marauders coach David Seto, who is joined on his staff this year by Chris Phalen. “We’re not a young team but we’re also not an older team, as we have a lot of Grade 11 players this season.
“We have some size on our roster and our athleticism really showed in our first two games of the tournament, as we were able to outrebound our opponents by a fair margin and we got a lot of our points from inside.”
Meanwhile, this year’s Crusaders lineup is a very experienced one as it’s made up of mostly Grade 11 and 12 players.
“That’s something that came out of our tryout process as we have a lot of good players in that age group,” Strom said.
“Our juniors are looking awesome as well, so we wanted to keep those Grade 9 players together so that they can all move up seamlessly to the senior team.”
Both schools are back in action this weekend as the Marauders will compete at a tournament that’s hosted by the Centennial Chargers in Saskatoon, while the Crusaders will travel to Warman.
Carlton will also serve as the hosts for the annual food bank game, which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 18.
The Crusaders and Marauders girls’ programs will take to the court at 5:30 p.m., with the boys’ contest getting underway at 7 p.m.
Carlton’s girls’ team will also be hosting a ‘Pink’ game on Jan. 23, 2020 against the Melfort Comets, which will help to raise funds in the fight against cancer.