Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders shoot hoops for hunger

Carlton Crusaders forward Avry Bear (#14) takes a shot in the annual Food Bank game against the St. Mary Marauders on Dec. 18, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert’s Carlton Comprehensive Public High School and École St. Mary High School carried on a yearly tradition Wednesday evening—Instead of asking for cash donations to the school as admission to a basketball game, the teams collects non-perishable items for the Food Bank.

Carlton senior boys’ basketball coach and athletic director, Tim Strom, said the tradition predates his six years at the school. Carlton and St. Mary alternate hosting.

Previously the Food Bank game was just between the boys’ teams, but this year, they decided to do a double-header with the girls.

“It was the girls’ request. They saw this game that we were involved in and they thought ‘Hey, why not? Why can’t we join you?’…double the fans, double the donations and double the entertainment for the people that are coming,” said Strom.

“Every year you always hope for the same thing,” he explained. “That this is the time of the year that we think about not just ourselves, we think about others and hopefully they can carry that forward after they graduate.”

Carlton and St. Mary senior basketball teams will continue to a double-header with both the boys and the girls to gather more donations for the Prince Albert Food Bank. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Cans of soup, canned vegetables, cereal and Kraft Dinner flooded one of the benches and the floor underneath as fans came in for the girls game, which tipped off at 5:30 p.m. They added more food to the pile as they headed in for the boys game at 7.

They were also able to donate $285 in cash donations to the Food Bank.

“I reached out to them and I said ‘Let’s do both, let’s do the guys and girls and it’ll be double the amount of fans, hopefully double the amount of stuff that we can raise for a good local cause,’” added Dwayne Gareau, who coaches the St. Mary senior girls.

“It’s a good thing for them to know that life is bigger than sports. It’s an opportunity for them to see that this is one small thing that they can do. It helps local people, that they can actually have a good feeling of whether you win or lose, there’s a good cause for it.”

The tradition leaves each team even more motivated to fight for the win, said Strom, adding each game is important to make it to provincials in the third week of March.

“I don’t think we’re going to motivate players any more than they motivate themselves to play a game like this. As much as the entry fee is for charity, I’ll promise anybody coming tonight that the action on the court will be as intense as it ever is.”

Both coaches agreed that there’s always a friendly rivalry between the two schools when it comes to basketball.

“There’s always a little bit more at stake when you’re playing against someone that’s in the same city as you. There’s a rivalry. It’s friendly, but at the end of the day you want to win those games,” said Gareau.

“We’re both 5A schools within the city and we have a lot of respect for them and what they do here and vice versa.”

He said the double-header Food Bank games will continue on next year at St. Mary High School.

Carlton came out on top in the girls game with a score of 71-35, with the St. Mary boys winning the 80-69 second game.