Raiders 75 Cougars 71
It came down to execution and in the end the Lindsay Thurber Raiders held a slight edge over the Notre Dame Cougars.
The Raiders did what they had to over the final two minutes to pull out a 75-71 victory over the Cougars in the zone 4A high school boys’ basketball semifinal at LTCHS Thursday.
“Playoffs are supposed to be tough and exciting and that was a game the boys will remember,” said Raiders head coach Dwayne Lalor. “The guys played well when we needed it. That’s why we practice and do all that stuff.”
The Cougars led 69-68 with just over two minutes remaining, but Dallin Higham gave the Raiders the lead for good, nailing a three-point basket with 1:54 remaining. Both teams had problems scoring for over a minute before Erik Hoehne made it 73-69 with a pair of free throws.
“He stepped up and calmly hit both of them and that settled everyone down,” said Lalor.
Amet Deng gave the Cougars a chance with a basket before Spencer Klassen hit two free throws with 16.7 seconds remaining to wrap up the victory.
“We kind of ran out of gas at the end, but foul trouble hurt us and four possessions at the end we turned the ball over,” said Cougars head coach Tom Henley. “We had 69 points and led by one with two minutes remaining and managed just two points the rest of the way.
“It was one of those nights. We have a lot of young players and with the pressure and our season on the line we didn’t execute to the best of our ability. But I’m not upset. I would have liked to have moved on, but at the end of the day I’m OK with it.”
One player who wasn’t about to hand the game to the Raiders was veteran forward Mike Malin, who poured in 36 points.
“He played a great game,” said Lalor. “I knew he could shoot, but I didn’t realize he could shoot that well. He has a technically nice looking shot. He’s tough and plays hard.”
Malin, who played all 40 minutes, played the final 14 minutes with four fouls.
“There was only once or twice where he backed down a bit, but overall he dug in and played a tough game,” added Lalor, whose squad now faces the Hunting Hills Lightning in the best-of-three final.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve played in the provincials and we gave ourselves a chance tonight,” he said. “But we’ll have to play some pretty good basketball as we’re up against another well-coached, powerful team. But right now I’m happy with this game, as we played hard and made some shots when we needed to.”
Spencer Klassen led the Raiders with 21 points while Tanner Rehn added 16, Higham 13 and Hoehne nine.
Lightning 63 Cougars 34
Meanwhile in girls’ semifinal action, the Lightning rolled over the Cougars 63-34 as Jayna Mazurin had 14 points, Wendy Cortes 13 and Abbey Busch 11. Paige Watson and Emily Elkins had six points each for the Cougars.
The Lightning meet the Raiders in the best-of-three final.
Both series go Tuesday, Thursday and if necessary, Friday. The girls open at LTCHS with Scott Doan of the Lightning deciding where he wants to open the boys’ playoffs.
l The Lacombe Rams downed the Ponoka Broncs 75-72 to reach the 3A boys’ semifinals against Camrose on Monday.
Keegan Cooke led the Rams with 20 points while Chandler McLaren had 30 for the Broncs.
l In JV league action, the Notre Dame Cougars split a twin bill with the Wetaskiwin Sabres.
The Notre Dame boys put together an undefeated regular season with a 58-46 victory while the girls’ lost 47-42.
Jonna Suerte and Kenzie Creed had eight points each for the Notre Dame girls while Brianne Mantai had 16 for the Sabres.
Both Notre Dame and Wetaskiwin will be involved in the zone playoff tournament, beginning today at Notre Dame and Hunting Hills.
The Cougars clash with Ponoka at 4 p.m. on the boys’ side. Wetaskiwin also meets Camrose at 4 p.m. while at 5:45 p.m. LTCHS takes on Lacombe and Hunting Hills meets West Central of Rocky Mountain House. All the games are at Hunting Hills.
On the girls’ side, LTCHS meets Ponoka at 4 p.m., Wetaskiwin clashes with Camrose at 5:45 p.m. and Hunting Hills takes on Lacombe at 7 p.m. All three games are at Notre Dame. West Central meets Notre Dame at 7 p.m. at Hunting Hills.
The girls’ semifinals go at 10:15 a.m. Saturday at Notre Dame with the final at 5:15 p.m. at Hunting Hills. The boys’ semifinals are at noon at Notre Dame and Hunting Hills with the final at 5:15 p.m. at Notre Dame.