The Hunting Hills Lightning took a chance in starting the Central Alberta 4A boys’ basketball finals on the road.
They had the right to start the best-of-three series at home, but head coach Scott Doan felt it was better for the fans and the players if they opened at Lindsay Thurber Tuesday then returned home Thursday.
“I know Kathy (LTCHS girls’ head coach Lalor) likes to start at home so I tried to cooperate and besides it’s better for the fans to get a chance to see both games,” said Doan.
The decision almost backfired, but the Lightning held it together at the end to pull out a 71-68 victory over the LTCHS Raiders.
“We did a good job of making it close,” said Doan. “I didn’t think it was what they did but rather what we didn’t do. There were some bad passes and bad shots. Things were going good then we stopped. I don’t know why we stopped, it makes no sense to me . . . we have to play the whole game.”
The Lightning jumped into 21-8 lead after the first quarter and led 38-26 at the half. The Raiders stormed back to take a 46-44 lead and trailed 57-55 after three quarters. The fourth quarter was back and forth with the teams exchanging the lead four times. The teams were tied at 67 with Mackenzie Wright putting the Lightning ahead with 16.8 seconds remaining. The Raiders had a chance to tie, but the shot wouldn’t fall from in close and Sean Campbell hit two free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining to all but secure the win.
“We couldn’t score early, but we talked with the guys throughout the first half and at the break and we came out hard in the second half and made a heck of a game of it,” said Raiders head coach Dwayne Lalor.
“We got the lead a couple of times, but couldn’t get that next hoop.”
It’s the second time the two met this season with the teams now 1-1.
“Both games were tight, as they should be,” said Lalor. “Now we go on to Thursday and get after it.”
Campbell led the Lightning with 18 points while Jesse Ross added 17 and Linden Petersen and Wright had 11 each.
Tanner Rehn led the Raiders with 26 points while Parker Cook had 18 and Ben Pasiuk 12.
The Lightning also stormed out of the gate in the girls’ game grabbing a 14-11 lead in the first quarter. But in the end the Raiders rolled to a 74-41 victory.
“They came hard out the gate,,” said Raiders Kathy Lalor. “We knew Jill (Lightning head coach de Jonge) would have them ready, which was good.”
However the Lightning couldn’t control Raiders Grade 10 star Kelsey Lalor, who poured in 16 of her game high 30 points in the second quarter to take a 33-16 lead.
“We got off to a good start then got stagnant,” said de Jonge.
“The girls weren’t moving which made it tougher to make passes, which resulted into a number of turnovers.
“One of the major differences was their fast break which came off our turnovers and their rebounds. That killed us, plus Kelsey Lalor had a tremendous game.”
“Our fast break did help, although I didn’t think we rebounded that well until the fourth quarter,” said Kathy Lalor.
“One other thing I didn’t like was the number of fouls. We got lazy at times and tried to make a steal. We can’t be going after the ball with them dribbling down the sideline. We have to focus on what we’re doing.”
Lizzy Morneau and Emma Newton added 13 points each for the Raiders and Reece McGuire nine. Jaden Robinson had nine and Drew McKinlay eight for the Lightning.
The girls also return to Hunting Hills Thursday at 6 p.m. with the boys to follow. If both or either series goes to a third game they will be Friday with the girls at LTCHS and the boys at Hunting Hills.