Crusaders and Marauders senior boys’ basketball teams gearing up for regionals

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Avry Bear snags a rebound for the Carlton Crusaders during their bronze medal game against the St. Mary Marauders at the 2020 Marauders Invitational.

A strong field at the 2020 Marauders Invitational was just what the hosts from St. Mary and the Carlton Crusaders were looking for last weekend as this year’s Hoopla tournament draws closer.

“There were a lot of 5A and 4A schools here for the tournament and this was probably the strongest field I’ve seen in the four years that I’ve been here,” Marauders head coach Dave Seto. “I think many of the teams that were here on the weekend are going to in contention for medals at Hoopla next month in Regina.”

The crosstown rivals ended up playing each other in the bronze medal game on Saturday evening, which saw the Crusaders come away with a 74-60 triumph.

“It was a very successful weekend for us,” Crusaders head coach Tim Strom said. “All four teams that we played (the Estevan Elecs, Warman Wolverines, Yorkton Raiders and St. Mary) are in the 5A rural category with us and I think this weekend will help to make things clearer as to where we will all sort out in terms of the rankings at the end of the season.

“Other than one tough game in the semifinals against Yorkton, I thought we played well and we had a number of players stepping up to contribute and earn some more minutes than they may have previously.”

Although the Marauders were unable to finish their home tournament with a victory, Seto was pleased with how they played, especially in an exciting semifinal battle against the eventual champion Central Cyclones from Moose Jaw.

“We knew that last game against Carlton was going to be a bit of a tough one for us, especially since we were so emotionally invested into that game with Central,” Seto said. “I think we had a few players who were on the court for over 35 minutes in that one.

“Overall though, I thought we played really well in our first two games (against the North Battleford Vikings and the Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans) and we were excellent in the semifinal against Central.”

It’s been a busy winter for both programs as they’ve been travelling around the province to take part in various tournaments.

“We’ve done well against schools from Saskatoon and Regina and I think we’re in the mix to get to Hoopla,” Seto said. “We’ve improved quite a bit from the start of the year. We’re moving the ball more effectively and our defensive game planning has also improved a lot.”

“We had a couple of starters figured out before the season started, but we weren’t sure who were going to be the next guys to step up and contribute, Strom added. “We’ve seen a few different players stand out as the year has gone on and I think we’ve got a pretty good team here.”

The Crusaders and the Marauders will return to action on Feb. 28 and 29 for a two-day tournament in North Battleford.

They will then prepare for the 5A boys rural event, which will be held in Weyburn on March 13 and 14 and will also feature the Vikings, Wolverines, Raiders, Elecs, Lloydminster Barons, Balgonie Greenall Griffins, Swift Current Colts and the host Eagles.

The top two teams will then head to the provincial capital for Hoopla, which runs from March 19 to 21.