Marauders senior A girls head into Hoopla looking to shed underdog brand

The St. Mary Marauders senior A girls finished in second place at last weekend's regional tournament in Swift Current. --Submitted photo/Terri Schrader

While the St. Mary Marauders proved themselves worthy of a provincial berth with a second place finish at regionals, they’re still regarded by many as a heavy underdog heading into the biggest tournament of the season. As the seventh seeded team heading into Hoopla, the Marauders will look to mimic some March Madness, and surprise a couple of higher seeded teams.

“We know that we’re going in as an underdog team,” Marauders coach Dwayne Gareau said. “We get that we’re playing a very good team in our first game. But we think we have a good team as well. If we can hang around in the game as long as possible, it starts to put pressure on the favourite in the matchup. The longer we can keep that game within grasp, the more pressure it puts on our opponent.”

St. Mary had to win their first two games at regionals in Swift Current to advance to Hoopla. They entered the tournament as the third seed, and they took on sixth seeded Estevan, and came out with a 66-52 win.

“We got down early in that game, we were down 16 points at one stage,” Gareau said. “We showed some grit and a lot of resilience to fight back and come away with a win. I think we were able to carry that momentum into our second game.”

That win advanced them to the semi finals, where they squared off with their cross town rivals, the Carlton Crusaders. After coming out on the losing end of a few games against Carlton earlier this season, the Marauders bounced back in the biggest way, winning 59-44 against the second seed Crusaders. The victory clinched a berth at provincials, while Carlton saw their season come to a heartbreaking end.

“We played with a lot of energy against Carlton,” Gareau credited. “I think the thing that we did that got us over the hump is that we locked in on defense. That was what we were focusing on all weekend, defense and rebounding. The cross town rivalry that we have with Carlton sort of added another element to the competition. We both want to be successful, and unfortunately in the semi finals, one team had to knock the other out.”

St. Mary then met up with host Swift Current in the regional final, but fell 90-31. Swift Current captured the regional championship with the win, but both teams had already moved onto the more important stage: Hoopla.

“I think we were a little shattered in the final,” Gareau said. “We were a little tired, and we had expended a lot of energy in our first two games. We just ran out of gas in that final, but at that stage we had accomplished our goal of qualifying for Hoopla, and it gives us an opportunity to see what we can do this weekend. It wasn’t an easy pathway, and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had a couple of very tough games to get through to qualify for Hoopla.”

The Marauders will begin their Hoopla run on Friday at Leboldus High School in Regina. They will take on second seeded Regina Campbell in the quarterfinals at 6:15 p.m.

In other action, Saskatoon St. Joseph will take on Regina Winston Knoll in the one vs. eight quarter final. Third seeded Swift Current will battle sixth seeded Saskatoon Centennial, while Saskatoon Holy Cross will face Regina Riffel in the four vs. five matchup to round out quarter final action.