The Lindsay Thurber Raiders veterans are already performing at an expected high level and the rookies aren’t far behind.
So far, so good for the senior high girls basketball squad, who took top honours in the SAIT tournament during the weekend at Calgary and on Tuesday upped their Central Alberta League record to 2-0 with an impressive 85-17 win over the visiting Lacombe Rams.
“We’ve had a pretty good start to the season,” said Raiders head coach Kathy Lalor, who has seven veterans and five more who are going into their first season.
“We have seven returning players and all of them were key contributors last year,” Lalor continued, referring to wings Elizabeth Morneault, Morgan deBoon and Kallie Loewen, guards Kelsey Lalor and Kiera Fujimoto and posts Nikki Thomas and Jenna Hawkes.
The newcomers are wings Sierra Laye and Gaia Shaw, post Kieran Gray and guards Emma Holmes and Hayley Lalor.
“Our two Grades 10s (Holmes and Hayley Lalor) are both really good ball handers and shooters,” said the Raiders coach of the two rookies. “They also play pretty good defence, so they fit in pretty well with what we have already.
“The two Grades 11s (Laye and Loewen) are key players, they’re playing in positions where we needed people, and our first-year Grade 12 (Shaw) is a pretty good shooter from the outside. The kids who have come in have really filled the spots where we needed people, and that’s been key.
“It’s a little tough right now. We have a few injuries, some basketball related and some from the girls who have come in from volleyball. The tough part is just being able to get those kids who have come from volleyball a bit of rest, but Christmas is coming and that will be a good time for them to rest up.”
Lalor didn’t finalize her roster until last week, just in time for the SAIT tournament.
“The Calgary league had their opening tournament the same weekend, so there weren’t any Calgary teams in the (SAIT) tournament,” she said. “But there was a lot of teams from around Calgary, like Cochrane, Okotoks and Chestermere, and there was a team from Cranbrook.
“The competition was really good on our side of the draw, our girls had to play hard. They were all hard fought games, so that was good for us. I’m pleased that we were able to compete after having our girls for only a few days, but it’s a good way to start the season … you hit the floor running.”
The Raiders finished 12th at least year’s 4A provincials. Lalor feels the 2015-16 edition is capable of more, particularly as the host team come March.
“The awesome thing is because we’re hosting provincials two teams from our zone are going to get to go this season,” she said.
“It’s great that the provincials will be here, it gives the kids lot of things to work towards. One thing we do know for sure is we have a lot of work to do to be competitive with those top teams, but I think we have the girls to do it.”
Fujimoto led the Raiders with 23 points Tuesday. Kelsey Lalor added 20 and Hayley Lalor also hit doubles figures with 15.
Mya Baptiste and Katie McMillen each netted a team-high four points for the Rams.
• In other senior girls play Tuesday, Kristen Loney scored 12 points for the host Hunting Hills Lightning in a 52-26 victory over the Ponoka Broncs.
Kelsey Kolesnik contributed nine points for the winners, while Allie Wynychuk led the Broncs with 11.