Carlton senior A girls staying positive through trying times in basketball season

Maya Soles of the Carlton Crusaders contests a shot in a game against Saskatoon St. Joseph. --submitted photo.

While they have only played in one tournament and just a couple of exhibition games this season, the Carlton senior A girls basketball team is finding ways to keep morale high on the court.

While the team has had few opportunities to show their talent, a lot is happening behind the scenes in practice. Coach Kelsey Pearson has liked what she’s seen so far from her young squad.

“I think their main focus this year and for the rest of the season is just playing as a team and learning who we are,” Pearson said. “Staying positive is a big thing for us, not only on the court, but off the court as well. We talk to them about leadership and what that looks like, not only on the basketball court, but it’s important that they’re being leaders outside of that as well.”

With no grade 12 girls and just four girls in grade 11, experience has been the biggest void on the roster. Since last season was washed due to COVID-19, the girls in grade 11 would have last seen the court in their grade nine year on the junior team. While the lack of experience may seem like a problem, Pearson says the girls have embraced the opportunity to make their own mark.

“This is very new to all of them,” she said. “They’re learning the speed of the game, and they didn’t have anyone older than them on the team this year to help them out. They’re learning how to be leaders themselves. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been a good challenge for them.

“The best part about this is that they’re all in the same position. We have 12 leaders on the team this year instead of just a couple. I think that in itself has really helped them grow together as a team, instead of just separately, and what more could you ask for.”

After returning from the Christmas break just a couple weeks ago, the Crusaders were getting ready to head across the city for a tournament at Ecole St. Mary High School. When news got out that the tournament had been cancelled, Pearson said the team handled it well.

“It was tough, but considering we’re in the middle of a pandemic, it wasn’t surprising,” she said. “At the beginning of the season we prepared ourselves for hearing stuff like that throughout the season.

“We really tried to remind the girls of all the positives going on, even when tournaments get cancelled. There’s nothing you can do about it, and obviously our girls need games, but we could be in a position like last year where we’re not even able to practice. Our girls are just happy to be in the gym.”

Looking forward to the rest of the season, Pearson lastly explained where she would like to see the team develop in terms of growth the rest of the way.

“Everyone’s end goal is obviously Hoopla,” she said. “It’s an amazing experience as a team. Right now we’re focused on building each other up and playing well as a team. We have a really good coaching staff here, and I’m really proud of how all of us, especially the girls, and how they’ve persevered through everything so far this year.”