Crusaders and Marauders senior girls’ hoops teams getting ready for regionals

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Gage Grassick of the Carlton Crusaders goes for a lay-up after working her way past the Melfort Comets defence last Friday.

With only a week to go before the SHSAA 5A girls basketball’ rural regional tournament in Yorkton, teams are starting to wonder who they will be matched up against when the bracket for the event is revealed after this weekend.

“There was definitely a bit of a buzz about it at our tournament here this weekend,” Carlton Crusaders head coach Kelsey Pearson said.

“We’re so close to Hoopla now and everyone’s talking about the standings and rankings, where they think they will end up and who they will be playing when we head down to Yorkton next Friday.”

The Crusaders are coming off of a home tournament victory on Saturday as they defeated the North Battleford Vikings and also ended up donating $250 to the Prince Albert SPCA as the event winners.

“We were trying to figure out if wanted to order medals or plaques for the tournament winners and I think we’re at a point now where kids just don’t hang on to those plaques and we have nowhere to display them at the school,” Pearson explained.

“We talked about how meaningful the Pink Game was here in January and we decided to start a new tradition here with our home tournament. It will now be called the Carlton Crusaders Charity of Choice Invitational Tournament and the winner will donate to a different charity each year.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Brook Brassard of the St. Mary Marauders guards Elliot Duncalfe of the Swift Current Ardens during the Carlton Crusaders Charity Of Choice Invitational Tournament.

The St. Mary Marauders also took part in the event and finished in fifth place overall after a triumph over the Lloydminster Barons.

“We were playing a little bit shorthanded this weekend due to some injuries and also having a couple of girls away for a volleyball tournament, but our end goal was still the same,” Marauders head coach Dwayne Gareau said.

“We wanted to get better in each game as we get ready for regionals and a spot at Hoopla. For the most part, I think we were able to do that against a really strong group of teams.”

In order to qualify for this year’s Hoopla tournament, which will run from March 19-21 in Regina, the Crusaders and Marauders will need to finish in the top spots at regionals.

The Vikings, Barons, Warman Wolverines, Balgonie Greenall Griffins, Estevan Elecs, Weyburn Eagles, Swift Current Ardens and the host Yorkton Raiders will join them at the event.

“You are focused on what you can control but I think there is a comfort level of knowing most of the teams that we’ll see in Yorkton,” Gareau said. “It helps us to shape our game plan and also know the things that we need to better against them from when we faced them earlier in the year.”

“The regional tournament is an entirely different level of basketball and a totally different mental game from what we see throughout the course of the season,” Pearson added. “There’s going to be some great games next weekend and I can’t wait for it.”