Crusaders senior girls’ basketball team win Kelly Smith Memorial Tournament for the third time

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Hailee Maier of the Carlton Crusaders works her way around Xiaodi Sieben of the John Paul II Crusaders from North Battleford on Friday afternoon at St. Mary.

Host Marauders finish in fourth place

After winning the Kelly Smith Memorial Tournament in 2009 and 2010, it took a bit for the Carlton Crusaders senior girls’ basketball team to win the annual event at St. Mary for the third time.

The Crusaders became the first school to win the tournament on three separate occasions on Saturday as they picked up a 73-49 victory over the North Battleford Comprehensive High School Vikings.

“It was a great win and it’s wonderful to win that tournament, but what was the most important thing for us from this weekend is how the team came together, which is something that the whole coaching staff noticed,” Crusaders head coach Kelsey Pearson said.

“This was our third tournament of the season and we did okay down at both of them in Saskatoon, but we could see the girls improving a lot this weekend with how they started to push each other in practice this week.”

The Crusaders, who were the runner-up to the Regina O’Neill Titans in the consolation tournament in the 5A category at Hoopla last year, have six Grade 12 players on their roster this season to go along with two Grade 11 players four Grade 9 students.

“Our returning players are role models for the Grade Nine players and I think they’ll be able to learn a lot when they move up into bigger roles next year,” Pearson said.

“Gage Grassick is a big part of our team and she’ll be moving on to the (Saskatchewan) Huskies next year. She’s really worked hard at becoming a better leader and if she can continue to do that, I think we’ll have a successful season.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Brook Brassard drives to the basket for the St. Mary Marauders as they faced the Birch Hills Marauders in the opening game of the Kelly Smith Memorial Tournament on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the host Marauders ended up in fourth place in their tournament following a 49-41 loss to the Holy Cross Crusaders of Saskatoon.

“One of our goals was to be in the medal round so it was a successful weekend for us,” Marauders head coach Dwayne Gareau said.

“We picked up a big win over Estevan in the quarter-final round and that’s something that could prove to be important when they determine the rankings for the 5A rural regional later this season.”

Like the Crusaders, the Marauders have also played in three events this year and picked up a tournament title in Swift Current prior to Christmas.

“It’s a really good roster in terms of the amount of leadership and young energy that we have on the team,” Gareau said.

“This weekend we’re going to be in a tough tournament in Regina as we face two of the top schools in the province (the Regina LeBoldus Golden Suns and the Saskatoon Centennial Chargers) in our pool. It’s a good challenge to play those top tier teams as it gives us a chance to see how we match up against them and what we can do to improve our team.”

The Crusaders will travel to Moose Jaw for a tournament this weekend before hosting the Melfort Comets in the Carlton Crushes Cancer pink game that will serve as a fundraiser for the Victoria Hospital Foundation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23.