Marauders advance to Hoopla despite losing “gravy game” in regional final

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald St. Mary Marauder Haley Deback corrals the ball while watched by a Swift Current Ardens defender during the SHSAA 5A Girls Regional Basketball Championship Final on Saturday. Swift Current would go on to win the game 54-45.

The 5A Girls Basketball Regionals hosted at Ecole St. Mary High School ended with the St. Mary Marauders advancing to Hoopla in Moose Jaw, but not winning the Regional title.

The Marauders fell 54-45 to the top seeded Swift Current Ardens in Saturday evening’s final but advanced by finishing second.

Marauders head coach Dwayne Gareau said the final was a gravy game after the Marauders defeated the Carlton Crusaders 62-49 on Saturday morning to advance to the Championship game.

“You want to win this regional championship,” he said. “We’ve done the first order of business, which Is qualifying for Hoopa. Second, if we could have beat them and improve the ranking, that was the second order of business. But it’s kind of the gravy game. We ate the French fries that was the gravy.”

Gareau said that the team will go back to the drawing board in the week leading up to Hoopla, which is scheduled for March 21-23 in Moose Jaw.

The final got off to a slow start for both teams with Swift Current leading 8-5 after the first quarter and 19-18 at the half. Gareau said both teams expended emotional and physical energy in the semi-finals, which may have contributed to the slow start.

“We had a lot of good looks early on and we were just missing some easy ones,” he said. “Playing good defence kept us in it thankfully, but just didn’t play well enough offensively. That was just the consistent (note) throughout the whole game: we) didn’t play consistently enough offensively.”

The Marauders took a 45-41 lead with under seven minutes left in the game before they had went cold offensively. Gareau said that the team had some fatigue and Swift Current took advantage.

“We just didn’t make any plays in that fourth quarter and then that’s a testament to that team (The Ardens) there. You know what, they’re a great team and they are ranked number one for a reason in our region.”

Both teams turned it on offensively in the second half with the Ardens leading 33-32 after three quarters.

Cassidy Schrader led the way offensively for the Marauders with 15 points, while Grade 12 forward Sydney Batiuk contributed 12 points.

“I think we just performed as a team,” Schrader said. “I think we were all sticking together. We put our hearts and then we left it all on the court.”

She added that the day was a long one as Gareau had noted. Schrader was happy to advance to Hoopla.

“It is so exciting,” she said. “I’m so excited. It’s my Grade 12 years, so this is just a special moment for me.”

Gareau said how they prepare would be determined once the Marauders know their opponent

“Obviously, we are going to have to play better offensively, no matter who that team is. But will we game plan against them? We’re known for playing wonderful defence and capitalising and playing some transitional offence so that’s going to be a game plan,” Gareau said.

The Marauders opened the regionals with a 52-29 win over Weyburn on Friday evening. Gareau thanked all of the people who helped make the weekend a success.

“I just want to thank all of our volunteers, our officials, our fans. It was a fantastic weekend of basketball and hosting teams from all over the province was a ton of fun,” he said.