Having watched his team earn a pair of runner-up finishes to start off their tournament slate, Carlton Crusaders senior boys’ basketball head coach Tim Strom is pleasantly surprised with how well the start of the season has gone.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t think we’d be playing this well after our first two weekends,” Strom said.
“We lost four of our starters and six of our Grade 12 players to graduation, so we have seven new rookies in the lineup. However, the way we are playing at the moment is better than how we played at the end of last season.”
The Crusaders started off their season with a trip to the final at their home tournament on Dec. 1, where they lost to the Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans.
They returned to the championship game this past weekend in Warman, but ended up coming up short against the Notre Dame Hounds.
“We’ve had a number of guys step up into different roles and we have a bunch of player providing scoring for us in those tournaments,” Strom said.
“Last year, we had one or two players that would provide the bulk of our points, but so far this year we’ve had five players who are consistently putting together eight to 10 point showings. The team has been moving the ball and sharing the scoring, which makes us a lot more effective.”
In addition to a balanced offence, the Crusaders also have a slightly different style of play than they’ve had in years past.
“We were a very tall team last year but we lost a number of our big guys due to graduation,” Strom said. “Although we don’t have a lot of size, we do have a lot of speed on this year’s roster, which we’ve made our strength.
“If you combine that with the fact that we have a number of guys on the team that are in their third year and have waited their turn to play on a regular basis, that’s probably played a key role in our strong start.”
The Crusaders will be back in action this weekend for a two-day tournament in Birch Hills.