Crusaders senior girls’ win home tournament

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Taryn Izsak controls the ball for the Carlton Crusaders as they went up against the Swift Current Ardens during their home tournament Saturday.

The last major tune-up for the Carlton Crusaders senior girls’ basketball team might put them in a good spot when it comes to taking part in the 5A girls’ Hoopla tournament in Saskatoon later this month.

The Crusaders finished on top in a six-team field on their home court Saturday, as they topped the Swift Current Ardens by a score of 85-66 in their annual invitational tournament.

“Hopefully this result will earn us the top seed for when we host the regional playoffs in two weeks,” Crusaders coach Kelsey Pearson said.

“Swift Current is a really good team and someone we might play again later this year,” Crusaders coach Jenn Ferguson added. “To get over 80 points against a strong defensive team like the Ardens is something that can benefit us quite a bit as we move forward.”

The Crusaders advanced to Saturday’s final with a narrow 58-57 victory over the Melfort Comets and a 65-37 triumph over the Wynyard Bears.

“As a group, the girls were playing to win this weekend instead of playing scared and trying not to lose,” Pearson said. “I think that was the biggest factor in their success.”

“We’re lucky to have a lot of different threats on offence as well,” Ferguson added. “We still have some things to shore up on defence as we get ready for the regionals, but we’re in pretty good shape.”

The Crusaders will be joined by the St. Mary Marauders, Lloydminster Barons, Weyburn Eagles, Yorkton Raiders and the Ardens for the regional tournament, which will be held on March 15 and 16.

The Marauders finished in fifth place at this weekend’s tournament, as they bounced back from losses to the Ardens and the North Battleford Vikings with a 56-47 win over the Bears.

“One of the biggest things that we were focusing on this weekend was just fine tuning our play before the playoffs,” Marauders coach Dwayne Gareau said.

“We reminded that the girls that even though we will probably be the four seed for regionals, there’s still a lot of work to do before the playoffs. We have the chance to play an exhibition game against Melfort on Wednesday, which should be a great tune-up for us.”

The Comets, who have won the last two 4A girls’ titles at Hoopla, finished in third place with a 61-47 win over the Vikings.

A four-team round-robin junior girls tournament also took place during the weekend between the Crusaders, Marauders, Ardens and the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute Golden Bears.