Working towards regionals

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Chris Chicoine of the St. Mary Marauders works his way through a sea of Tommy Douglas Tigers last Thursday night.

It’s an important time of the year for the Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders senior boys’ basketball teams.

With only a month to go until the 5A rural regional tournament in Yorkton, both squads are trying to get the best results possible in order to have a higher seed for the event on March 15 and 16 as they try and clinch one of two spots at the 2019 Hoopla tournament in Saskatoon.

“When you enter the middle of February, there’s only one or two tournaments left at the most for many of the schools in our region,” Crusaders head coach Tim Strom said. “Any time that you can beat one of those teams, it gives you a chance to move up the ladder.”

“There’s certain schools like a Lloydminster or a Swift Current that you might not get to see until later in the season,” Marauders head coach Dave Seto added. “Whenever you can play those school at this time of the year, that’s always a huge game as you can get a better idea of where you stand.”

The Crusaders and Marauders got the chance to stay close to home over the weekend as they took part in the 12-team Marauder Invitational at St. Mary.

The host Marauders were able to make their way to the semifinal round after wins over the Tommy Douglas Tigers of Saskatoon and the Swift Current Colts, but they would end up falling to the Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans.

“Meadow Lake beat us by almost 30 points when we played them at Carlton’s tournament in December, but we were within four points of them before they pulled away late to win by 10 points,” Seto said.

“I thought we played really well all weekend, especially against Swift Current as we beat them by 20 points in our first time seeing them all year. The competition was great all weekend and that’s what you want with Hoopla coming up.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Max Crawford of the Carlton Crusaders dealt with a pair of Lloydminster Comprehensive Barons during the Marauder Invitational tournament this weekend.

As for the Crusaders, they made it to the quarter-final round after a win over the Clavet Cougars but lose to the eventual tournament champion Lloydminster Comprehensive Barons.

They bounced back Saturday with a win over the Colts in the fifth place game.

“I thought it was a pretty good weekend for us,” Strom said. “The way we played with Swift Current was very important, as that’s a team we could probably face in Yorkton.

“I had no idea what our team was going to be like this season, as we had six players graduate from last year’s roster, but we’ve made a lot of strides. I think that shows with our tournament results as we’ve had four seconds, two thirds and a fifth this weekend at St. Mary.”

The Crusaders and Marauders will return to the tournament trail on March 1 and 2 as they’ll go to an event put on by the North Battleford Comprehensive Vikings.

Both schools are part of a nine-team field in the 5A boys’ rural regional, which includes tournament host Yorkton Regional, Warman, Lloydminster Comprehensive, Balgonie Greenall, Estevan and Swift Current.