Carlton Crusaders ready for upcoming basketball season

Carlton Crusaders ready for upcoming basketball season
Herald file photo. Luke Huddlestone and the Carlton Crusaders Sr. Boys basketball team are motivated to qualify for Hoopla, which is being played in Prince Albert this year.

The holiday season may be upon us, but the Carlton Crusaders have their sights set on the upcoming 5A basketball season.


The Carlton Sr. Boys basketball roster has 10 games under its belt this season and has a record of 7-3.

Carlton Sr. Boys basketball head coach Tom Hazzard says the Crusaders have an experienced, veteran roster this season

“We have quite an experienced squad this year. A team full of 12th graders who have gained quite a bit of gaming experience from the veteran presence. We’ve learned to play pretty fast and playing really tough competition over those first three weekends has helped prepare us for the fast type of game we need to play.”

Carlton has a very specific prize in mind this season, with Prince Albert hosting the provincial basketball tournament, Hoopla. Both Carlton and St. Mary do not receive automatic entry as hosts and must qualify for the regional tournament.

Hazzard says that being Hoopla hosts will give them extra motivation at the regional tournament.

“It’s always the goal of every team I coach to make it to Hoopla. We want to try to reach Hoopla, that’s a goal of ours. In terms of extra pressure, there’s always pressure to play at home and want to play at home. We’ll do our best for the regional playoffs to try and get there.”

This season, Carlton manages two teams at the Sr. Boys level.

Hazzard says that’s because the Crusaders have a large number of Grade 12s on their roster.

“I just think basketball has expanded in Prince Albert overall and that’s thanks to the club programs that are being developed in our community. To continue building a program in a big school like ours or St. Mary’s, I think that if you can make a second team that is very competitive and can travel around the province and take part in a lot of games that are full of students from the 11th grade will only help you get ahead.”

Hazzard adds that the development of some Grade 11 players would stall if they didn’t have a decent place to play without a second team.

“Our idea was to create a second team that will travel to six tournaments and get better, and next year some of those players will be promoted to the senior team and play at a higher level. Otherwise the opportunity for them to play would have been minimal.”

The Crusaders have also been invited to the BRIT Basketball Tournament in Saskatoon on January 12-14, 2023.


The name of the game for the Carlton Sr. Girls basketball team is Run and Gun.

Assistant coach Jenn Ferguson says the Crusaders will have a lot of depth off the bench this season, and they plan to use the depth to wear teams down.

“On our first weekends here it became quite clear that we have a very good team and a deep bench. We have 12 players who can contribute on and off the pitch. We have to play very fast. We hope to use that to our advantage to play a fast game and a game where we have a lot of substitutes and substitutes to keep our legs fresh and pass other teams.”

With Hoopla taking place in Prince Albert, Ferguson says the Crusaders are hopeful about their chances of qualifying with an additional entry being granted by the Regional 5A Rural/Small Town Tournament.

“There’s pressure every year to qualify and that’s why we play. This year we feel like we have a legitimate chance to move forward and do well there. The thing with PA hosting Hoopla is that there are three seeded players from the small town/rural 5A tournament. We hope to finish in the top three.”

The Crusaders are playing well in training early in the season and Ferguson says the entire coaching staff is excited to see where the season takes them.

“We’re really proud of the program and the girls we have work exceptionally hard. One of our focuses this year is that determination and persistence and the ability to play hard. We can definitely see it in action and we’re excited to see where that takes us at the end of the season.”

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