Hunting Hills senior basketball program growing as season progresses

There’s a lot of learning happening with the Hunting Hills Lightning senior high school basketball program.

The girls, while 6-5 on the year including tournament and regular season play, are still trying to figure out their offensive rhythm.

“Patience. Right now just running the offence that we want to run,” said head coach Jill de Jonge.

“Right now we’ve got a few specials that we just introduced. They’re pretty fresh. It’s tough going right now but we still have a month and a half until playoffs.”

The girls won 67-35 against Notre Dame on Thursday. Both Jessie Handley Sarah Stahl had 14 points and Amy Busch added 12.

On the boys side, a real emphasis on an up-tempo style has resulted in growing pains, and a 1-4 record in league play.

“It’s tough, because these boys want to think instead of react,” said coach Kevin de Jonge. “So I have to get them out of that one-second deer in a headlights look and get them moving the ball. We struggle when we don’t move the ball.”

The boys lost 65-44 to the Notre Dame Cougars on Thursday.

Their push-the-offence pace has shown signs of life in the two games that they used the system, and any progress is good progress, said Kevin.

“Any coach is looking for 40 minutes of effort. We have 25, maybe 26 minutes of effort right now. We just need to get those other 14 minutes,” he said.

“We’re trying to play up-tempo and speed up the opposition and let them make the mistake instead of us making the mistake. We’re new at it, it’s starting to come around now. I liked what I saw and I think we can build off it.”

He said now at the halfway point of the year, it’s more of a rebuilding season for his team as they have mostly Grade 11s and 10s in their lineup.

The senior girls, on the other hand, have just 10 players on their squad, and four returning players. Jill de Jonge said they learned so many lessons from the graduating players last year, they hit the ground running this season.

“We’ve got four returners, so relatively young,” she said. “They are leading my team in scoring. With my height, rebounding is probably one of our strengths. That’s one of the things we are trying to key on is be strong on the boards.”

She added the biggest asset for her team so far has been their play on the defensive side of the ball and their work ethic.

“It doesn’t take a lot to light a fire under them. They’re little go-getters, little rabbits. I haven’t coached a team like that for a while, they’re little fireballs,” said Jill.

Ultimately, the girls are looking for a provincial berth.

“We want to go to provincials so we have to win our zone. Because we’re not hosting this year only one goes,” she said.

“The girls are on board with that. They want to be qualifying. Representing at provincials and competing there.”

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