The Lindsay Thurber Raiders are showing signs of being ready for the playoffs.
“We played with energy and enthusiasm and the guys were shooting better,” said Raiders head coach Dwayne Lalor following a 67-48 victory over the Notre Dame Cougars in Central Alberta High School Boys’ Basketball League play at LTCHS Tuesday.
“Some of our team stuff is starting to come together, which was scattered for a long time. Seems like we have enough work in to learn to play as a team. If we continue to do that it’s a good sign.”
The Raiders were the better team Tuesday, including on the boards.
“Our group has some height and when we go after the rebounds we’re a tough group to handle,” added Lalor. “Plus our big guys are relatively quick and not afraid to dribble the ball, which is an advantage. Most of the big guys in the league don’t handle anyone who dribbles the ball.”
“They are a little longer than us and we didn’t battle inside,” said Cougars head coach Ed Major. “We decided to let them jump over us.”
The Raiders led 18-10 after the first quarter and extended that to 40-22 at the half.
“We had a couple of little runs, but didn’t sustain that,” added Major.
“If you can get an early lead and keep playing it’s hard for anyone to play from behind . . . we tried that far too often this season and hopefully we’re learning from it,” said Lalor.
The win gives the Raiders a leg up in the battle for the Zone 4A playoff seeding. They defeated both Hunting Hills and Notre Dame. However, it’s the final league standings that will determine which of the three teams receive a bye into the final. The Raiders do have two games remaining, visiting both Ponoka and Wetaskiwin.
Tanner Rehn led the Raiders with 18 points while Cam Black added 10 and Gaige Rehn and Parker Cook had eight each.
Tony Bornyi had 16 points for the Cougars.
On the girls’ side the Raiders didn’t shoot near as well as they have been, but they didn’t need to to pull off a 54-17 victory over the Cougars.
“I didn’t think either team shot that well, in fact both teams can play better,” said Raiders head coach Kathy Lalor, who got all 12 of her players plenty of playing time.
“This is the first time I think all season we’ve had 12 players,” she said. “Bretton (Bowd) is just back and Nate (Natalie Holmes) hasn’t played since early December. So it was interesting to get all 12 some playing time. Usually we have eight, nine or 10 players.”
The Raiders jumped into a 20-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended that to 25-8 at the half.
“It wasn’t their press, we were prepared for that, but our passing wasn’t good at all,” said Cougars head coach Erika Pottage. “We didn’t step up to the basketball to receive it and they had enough pressure to step into our passes.”
The Raiders managed just 19 points the second half while the Cougars had nine.
“Our shooting wasn’t good, as I mentioned, but it was one of those nights. As long as we keep working and trying to do the right things that’s fine,” said Lalor.
“It’s important for us to continue to play with intensity.”
“Kathy has them playing with such intensity and our inability to block out on the boards hurt,” said Pottage. “They had eight offensive rebounds in the first half and scored on seven of them. But the thing is you won’t win any games when you score 17 points.”
Pottage gave credit to some of her bench players for staying involved.
“I thought some of the girls off the bench stepped up. Alyssa Reid did a good job.”
Kelsey Lalor led the Raiders with 16 points while Emma Newton added 10 and Kennedy Graham seven. The Cougars didn’t have anyone over four points.
They were, however, missing Autumn Letkeman, who is at practice, and will be ready to play shortly.
“She will give us some more leadership and scoring off the wing,” said Pottage.
The win should give the Raiders first place in the 4A playoffs.
“From what I see even if we were to lose our final two games we’d only be tied for Hunting (Hills),” said Lalor, whose team beat the Lightning earlier this season.
l In other girls’ action the Lightning down the Lacombe Rams 70-62 with Jaden Robinson hitting 23 points, Madi Nimmo 12 and Nicole Fischer 10, Kirsten Ramsay had 34 for the Rams.