Justin VanTetering picked the right night to go off.
The Grade 12 shooting guard had a game high 18 points in leading the Lindsay Thurber Raiders past the Hunting Hills Lightning 70-56 on Thursday at Lindsay Thurber High School in the Central Alberta High School boys basketball 4A zone semifinal.
The Raiders now advance to the best-of-three final against the Notre Dame Cougars next week.
“This was huge, we battled hard against them in the last league game … and we were so happy to come back and win by this much in this game,” said VanTetering, 18. “It’s good moving ahead into the series against Dame, it’s a good confidence builder.”
Both teams actually started out slow with a 10-8 lead for the Raiders after the first quarter, but the two teams started to find their game in the second quarter and the Raiders took over in the second half to roll to their victory — stretching the lead to more than 20 points in the fourth quarter before the Lightning tightened things up.
“We executed our game,” said Raiders head coach Carl Light. “All week we practiced what to run against these guys and the boys executed perfectly.”
It was a big night for VanTetering who drove the Raiders offence all night, also forcing a handful of steals and picking up several assists in the process.
“Right off the bat nothing was falling and my teammates kept telling me to keep shooting, they were really good about that and they just started falling, it was really nice,” he said.
Ben Pasiuk added 13 more points for Lindsay Thurber and Marcus Pierce 10.
It was a tough finish to a tough season for the Lightning who entered the season with just four returning players. In every sense it was a rebuilding year, a fact strained even further when Ryan Doan was forced to take over on the bench late in the season from his dad Scott Doan, who continues to battle cancer.
But it also means the future is bright for Hunting Hills.
“The kids played really hard, all of them,” said Doan. “(I want the boys to learn from) this experience and how to play under pressure and how to deal with the competitiveness of the senior level.”
The Lightning were led by Zach Morgan with 13 points while Linden Petersen added 12 and Rohit Razzaq 10.
The group’s inexperience showed all semifinal, struggling to handle the Raiders’ press and were plagued with turnovers.
The Raiders now prepare to face their arch-rival Notre Dame Cougars, who were the top ranked team in the zone, earning the bye to the final.
The Lightning beat the Raiders in the zone final last year meaning there will be a new team representing the region at provincials this year.
“It’s going to take a lot more than today, they’re a really good team, we’re going to have to play our top,” said VanTetering. “We need to make shots and play as hard as we can … We can beat them, we just got to play our game.”
Game 1 of the final will go Tuesday at Notre Dame, Game 2 will be Thursday at Lindsay Thurber and if Game 3 is needed it will be Friday at Notre Dame. Notre Dame will have home court advantage and choice of where to start the series.
“At the beginning of the year we set out to make it to provincials and that’s the next step,” said Light.