The Carlton Crusaders Sr. A Girls Basketball Team built up a big first quarter lead they never relinquished on route to winning the Charity of Choice Invitational Tournament in Prince Albert on Saturday.
Maya Soles and Cadence Crain led the way with 19 and 18 points respectively, as the Crusaders capped off an undefeated weekend with a 72-40 victory over Meadow Lake’s Carpenter High School Spartans.
Carlton co-coach Jenn Ferguson credited the team’s defence for the win.
“Meadow Lake is a really tough team,” Ferguson said. “Our defence was much better, and that was the difference. When we didn’t play good defence and block out, they got close, and then when we did, that’s when we pulled away.”
“We’ve played (Carpenter) now four times and our defence has gotten better because of them,” co-coach Kelsey Pearson added. We’ve learned from them. Their defence has been outstanding all year. We always know that we’re up against a tough defensive team when we play them.”
Carlton jumped out to a 24-10 lead at the end of the first quarter Saturday evening. Carpenter kept in close in the second, putting up nine points to Carlton’s eight, but the Crusaders reasserted themselves in the third quarter, building up a 56-31 lead heading into the fourth.
Both Ferguson and Pearson credited the team’s bench for preventing Carpenter from rallying to get back in the game.
“They know that it’s go time and they don’t let up,” Pearson said. “They do their jobs as soon as they step on the court, and that’s not always easy when you’re sitting for half the game. We’re always really proud of what they do when they step on the court. I feel like they always keep that intensity really high.”
The Crusaders opened the tournament on Friday with a 70-27 win over Aden Bowman. They then downed Walter Murray 59-31 Saturday morning to secure their spot in the final. Ferguson credited the veterans on the Crusader squad for leading the way.
““We had a different girl step up in each game and play really great,” she said. “I was really proud of the Grade 12s today. They all played really well. It’s tough to do in your home gym when you know it might be your last game here, and they did great.”
The Crusaders are off until the March 18-19 weekend when they travel to Lloydminster for Hoopla regional qualifiers. They must finish in the top three to earn their spot.
“We don’t know what our rankings are yet,” Pearson said. “We’ll find out the week of regionals—the beginning of it—so it’s a waiting game.”
Hoopla begins in Prince Albert on Friday, March 24.
Rose Garden Hospice the charity of choice for 2023 Carlton Squad
The Carlton Sr. A Girls weren’t the only winners on Saturday. Their victory ensured the Rose Garden Hospice will receive a $250 donation courtesy of the Charity of Choice Invitational Tournament.
Four years ago, Carlton stopped buying medals and trophies for the winners, and instead turned that money into a charitable donation, with the winning team determining which charity gets the money.
Ferguson said idea has its roots in the Carlton Crushes Cancer fundraising games they played before COVID.
“Our girls learned a lot about giving back to the community and to those whose health isn’t there and aren’t as fortunate as they are,” she explained. “That was important to the kids.”
The Carlton girls team specifically chose Rose Garden Hospice. Pearson said it was a personal request for the squad, since the facility is named after Rose Daschuk, who passed away in 2008. One of Rose’s granddaughters is on the Carlton basketball team.