Crusaders look for big effort in opener after late start

By Ray Hamill — There has been little time for the St. Bernard’s girls basketball team to prepare for the new season, with the squad enjoying just three practices together before this week’s opener.

The Crusaders will travel to play at the Marin Academy Tournament in San Rafael, opening against Emery on Thursday, with additional games on Friday and Saturday.

But with half of the 10-player roster playing soccer until this past weekend due to the North Coast Section playoff postponements, and several of the other players playing with the volleyball team deep into their postseason, there has been little time to prepare for basketball.

“We’re certainly not as far as long as we’d like to be,” said St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gardner, who had hoped to have half two-and-a-half weeks of practice with his players by now.

Plenty of varsity experience

The good news is it shouldn’t take this group too long to adjust, not with the amount of varsity experience between them.

All 10 players, in fact, saw action at some point last season, including eight returning players from a team that won the Little 4 and made it all the way to the Division-IV NorCal semifinals.

Leading the way are three senior co-captains, Emily Gardner, Jasa Sisemore and Maddie Costa, all three of whom started last winter.

A fourth senior, Sarah Regli, and four juniors — Mackenzie Finck, Josie Peterson, Marayah Tomlinson and Brenna Silvers — are each also back from a year ago.

And rounding out this year’s roster are sophomore Sabrina Gardner and junior Shelby Jordan, who each also spent some time on the varsity squad a year ago, including the team’s six-game playoff run.

So experience won’t be a problem for the Crusaders.

Depth and balance

It’s also a close-knit group that has bonded well together and gives the head coach plenty of options with their depth and balance.

“When you’re a small high school like we are, and you have 10 players you can put on the court and feel comfortable with, that’s a good thing,” Mark Gardner said. “We’re deep, which is great. We work hard, which is great. And we have a lot of different pieces that fit together.

As for this weekend, the head coach has tempered expectations because of the late start, but will be expecting a big effort.

“Really, I’m looking for them to work hard and compete,” he said. “I don’t expect us to be very sound technically, but that can be made up for with effort.”

The Crusaders tip off at 6:30 p.m.

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