Carlton Senior A girls excited heading into regionals

The Carlton Crusaders senior A girls (black) in action against the Melfort Comets (pink) on Saturday at the CPAC. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

While they still have to wait almost two weeks before regionals start, ‘excited’ was the word used to describe the emotions of the Carlton Crusaders Senior A girls basketball team.

After a home tournament last weekend which saw the team go 2-1, coach Kelsey Pearson says the team has come a long way since the start of the season.

“The girls are so excited,” Pearson said. “They don’t want the season to end. Although it’s been a long season, I feel like we’ve been ‘go-go-go’ all year. We talked to them yesterday about how we only have three more weeks in the season and that’s it. They’re so excited to go to regionals.”

Carlton ended their weekend tournament with a win over the Melfort Comets. With one game remaining in Saskatoon before regionals, Pearson explained any nerves the team might have as they head into the playoffs, with the chance of qualifying for Hoopla.

“We’ve been talking to them about how that nervous feeling can be the exact same thing as an excited feeling,” she said. “Instead of being nervous, we’re trying to switch their mindset to focusing more on being excited. We want to move forward without being too scared.

“They’re so young and inexperienced that if they think they’re nervous, they’re going to play like they’re nervous. It’s important for them to play to win, not to play to not lose. I think that has really resonated with the team moving forward, and we’re working on shaping our mentality.”

At this point in the season and with games against the likes of St. Mary and different Saskatoon teams, the Crusaders have set a bar for themselves. Heading into regionals, defence is going to be the main focus for the team. If they can handle the game in their own end of the court, they can start putting points on the board on the other end.

“Our goal over the last few weeks has been to focus on our defense,” Pearson said. “That’s what we’ve needed to improve on the most this year, so we focused on that before we head to regionals. We still have two more weeks to work on it, and we’ll see how much the girls can learn and grow by the time regionals come.

“We have moments of greatness, and we’ve had moments where we know what we need to work on. The beauty of it is that this team has come a long way, and we still have tons of room to grow. These girls have come together as a team so well. From the beginning of the season until now, it’s been like night and day. They’ve made so many improvements, and they’ve been working hard.”

With two weeks before the team travels to regionals in hopes of making it to the dance at Hoopla, Pearson says the team has been getting in to the right frame of mind lately. Between winning big games and learning from losses, the growth of the group has been evident. She thinks the girls will be able to handle the rest of the season with a positive frame of mind.

“It’s up to the girls now,” she said. “Our coaching staff has given them all of the tools that they need. As long as they’re putting in the work and they go on the court and give it their all, they’ll be successful. Moving forward, we have to play our best basketball, or else we won’t get the chance to move on to provincials.”

@kyle_kosowan •