The Carlton Crusaders Sr. A Boys Basketball Team overcame a first half deficit in front of a boisterous hometown crowd to beat the Miller Marauders of Regina and advance to the semi-finals of the Hoopla 5A boys tournament.
Pranav Saggar led the way for Carlton with 28 points, while Brayden Hazzard had 19 and Luke Huddlestone had 15 as the Crusaders beat the Marauders 89-76. Miller’s Riley Clanton led all scorers in the game with 31 points, while A.J. Raquinio chipped in with another 17 for the Marauders.
The win means it will be a battle of the Crusaders on Friday, when fifth-ranked Carlton meets the top seeded Holy Cross Crusaders of Saskatoon for a spot in the final.
Carlton head coach Tom Hazzard said he was proud with how his team responded to an emotional four quarters of basketball.
“I thought we were resilient,” Hazzard said afterwards. “We had a lot of ups and downs in the game and I thought we were able to play through those ups and downs. We got into foul trouble early, and good for those kids who had to step up and play good down the stretch.”
Carlton trailed 39-37 at the half, but rallied to take a 58-53 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Miller responded with a high pressure defence, forcing Carlton into a few quick turnovers.
Despite early success on defence, Miller struggled to close the gap, and Carlton soon regained their poise and pulled away for good.
Hazzard said nerves caused the Crusaders to make too many turnovers in the second half, but said the team will benefit from playing is such a high pressure atmosphere.
“It’s good to play in this environment,” he said. “It’s good to play against a good team, and good to come out with a win. That was our goal coming in, to get a win in Hoopla, and this was a good step for us.”
Fans of both teams packed the stands at Carlton’s CPAC gym to witness the contest. Hazzard said the fans made it a great experience for both teams.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better than that,” he said. “We’re looking forward to tomorrow (Friday). I think it’s going to be a good match between us and Holy Cross, and we’ll see what happens.”
Holy Cross entered the tournament as Saskatoon Regional Champion after knocking off Miller 93-81 in the final. They opened Hoopla with a 89-56 win over Moose Jaw’s A.E. Peacock Collegiate at the Sask Polytechnic Gym on Thursday.
Kian Tyson led the way for Holy Cross with 28 points, while Jack Grey and Easton Thimm finished with 14 and 13 respectively. Mac Simpson was Peacock’s top scorer with 16 points.
Holy Cross and Carlton will play at Carlton’s CPAC gym on Friday in one semi-final. Tip-off is 6 p.m. Saskatoon’s Walter Murray Collegiate and Regina’s Michael A. Riffle High School will meet in the other semi-final. Tip-off is 7:45 p.m. The winners of those two games will meet in the finals at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Carlton girls fall to Harvest City Christian Academy
The Carlton Crusader Senior A Girls stayed close with Harvest City Christian Academy, but couldn’t pull off the upset, falling 66-55 in their Hoopla opener on Thursday.
Sophie Larsen led the way for the seventh-seed Crusaders with 23 points, while Jael Wells led Harvest City with 25.
Carlton Girls co-coach Kelsey Pearson said she was proud of how her team played.
“I think we as coaches knew that they could play like that all year,” she said. “We knew they had it in them. They battled hard and (we) couldn’t be more proud of how they played tonight.
“That’s all we wanted from them. They left it on the court, (and) played with their heart. It was just awesome. A fun game.”
Harvest City led 21-18 after the first quarter, and 41-31 at halftime before pulling away in the third quarter. In the fourth, Carlton outscored Harvest City 13-11, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the third quarter deficit.
Pearson said they’re hoping to build on that fourth quarter success on Friday, when they take on their cross-town rivals from St. Mary. The sixth seed Marauders fell 64-38 to Swift Current Comprehensive High School on Thursday.
“It’s not over,” Pearson said. “We’ve still got some games to play. We’ve still got some games to win. If we battle this hard in the next game, it’ll be a success all the way round.”
Carlton and St. Mary will play at the Sask. Polytechnic Gym on Friday. Tip-off is 12:45 p.m. Harvest City and Swift Current will meet in one 5A Girls semi-final at 7:45 p.m., while Regina’s Michael A. Riffle High School and Saskatoon’s St. Joseph High School meet in the other at 6 p.m. Both games are at the St. Mary High School Gym.