Quick start leads Crusader girls to Hoopla elimination win over St. Mary

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald Carlton Crusaders guard Sophie Larsen drives past St. Mary defender Cate Rapin during Hoopla’s 5A Girls consolation semifinal at Sask Polytechnic on Friday, Mar. 24 2023.

The Carlton Crusader girls basketball team got off to a quick start and didn’t look back on route to a 64-37 win over the St. Mary Marauders during Hoopla action at Sask Polytechnic on Friday afternoon.

“They came to win today.” Crusader head coach Kelsey Pearson said about her team’s effort. “There is no doubt about it. They just wanted it really bad. They weren’t letting up at all, not this game. So, they came to play and our seniors played absolutely phenomenal. Our graduating players just left everything on the court once again. After a tough, tough loss last night where they played their hearts out, I’m so proud of their composure and their mental toughness that they came with today after losing last night.”

Carlton came out with a full court press in the first quarter and led to several St. Mary turnovers.

Marauder head coach Dwayne Gareau says St. Mary didn’t come out with the same intensity that Carlton showed early on.

“We came out extremely flat. You could tell that they were ready to play an intense battle and we just quite frankly, we didn’t match their intensity. It wasn’t just the press, it was their offensive rebounding. It was them getting to loose balls. So, we just we didn’t do what we needed to do to play any game of that magnitude in front of a big crowd against your rival. We just didn’t match the intensity. As much as that’s disappointing, to be able to get into hoopla and have an opportunity to play in front of a couple large crowds and getting that experience is still beneficial for just the memories. And then for those girls that get to continue moving forward, learning from that and hopefully get an opportunity next year to get back and maybe have different results.”

The Marauders will graduate only a single player this year in forward Rylee Mckay, who was emotional on the court following the final buzzer.

Gareau credits her leadership skills being crucial for the team all season long.

“Rylee’s an extremely well-rounded individual. She is an SLC president. She’s a high achieving student. She’s very well-rounded. Just the way she carries herself, the leadership, her ability to try things and get involved in the school is something that all the girls can learn from. She’s gone through the COVID stuff. She’s gone through all those things. And she did get to go to back-to-back hoopla championships in Grade 11 and Grade 12, which is really something that is special. She’s made memories for a lifetime.”

With the win on Friday, the Carlton Crusaders advance to consolation final at 9 a.m. Saturday morning at Carlton’s Red gymnasium.

It will be the final game for Carlton’s four seniors (Hailee Maier, Katie Hawkes, Maya Soles and Cadence Crain) in their high school careers.

Pearson was emotional when talking about the graduating players getting one more opportunity to play in their home gym.

“I’m just so proud of them because I’ve been coaching these seniors since they were little, so I had more than just Carlton with them. So just the fact that we can be at our home gym, and I get to stand next to them when they walk off the court for the last time is just so special for me and for them. But I’m just so proud of them.”