The Lindsay Thurber Raiders employ an attack that is similar to their roster in terms of savvy and inexperience.
In one word, balanced.
“When we want to run we can run, and when we want to slow it down and go into half court our players are pretty disciplined,” said head coach Carl Light, whose team finished third in the boys division of the Lindsay Thurber senior high basketball tournament Friday and Saturday.
“Our players can run the half court to get the ball inside to our big post guys or they can also hit from the outside, so we’re pretty well-rounded.”
Light’s crew posted a 2-1 record in their own tournament, leaving the coach in an upbeat mood.
“We took some strides that we needed to at this stage of the season,” said Light.
“I was happy.”
The Raiders edged Edmonton W.P. Wagner 63-61 in Saturday’s bronze-medal contest, wiping out an eight-point deficit in a matter of two minutes. Down by a point with 2.3 seconds left on the clock, the hosts pulled out the thrilling victory when TK Kunaka hit a three-pointer.
Kunaka, a point guard, is one of seven rookies on the Lindsay Thurber roster. The others are forwards Jonathan Goulet, who was the Raiders tournament MVP, Marcus Pierce, Carter Chalifoux and Jacob Higham, and centres Kolbi Street and Aric Dunn.
The Raiders’ six veterans are point guard Ben Pasiuk, forwards Ben Holmes and Jeff Willoughby, guards Justin Van Tetering and Jarrett Zilinski and centre Cam Black.
The Raiders are 5-1 in league play to date, with their lone loss dealt by the Notre Dame Cougars.
“Our players have made the strides when they’ve needed to,” said Light, whose team finished fourth in the Sherwood Park Bev Facey tournament in early January “We lost a tough one (to Notre Dame) but learned from it. Now we’re just rolling and getting focused for the last part of the season.”
Lindsay Thurber failed to qualify for the provincials in 2014 but the head coach sees zone 4 championship potential in this year’s team.
“We’re looking to be right there in the (zone) finals and hopefully we can walk away with it,” said Light, who is in his first year as the senior Raiders sideline boss after holding the same position with the JV boys and girls over the previous five seasons.
The Raiders knocked off the Sherwood Park Salisbury Sabres 79-56 in their opening game of the tournament Friday. Kunaka led the way with 17 points and Goulet drained 13.
On Saturday, the Raiders were 85-73 A-side semifinal losers to Calgary Lester B. Pearson. The hosts, who trailed by 22 at one point before battling back to within seven, got 20 points from Pasiuk and 14 from Van Tetering.
Meanwhile, the Hunting Hills Lightning fell 69-50 to W.P. Wagner and 67-59 to Bishop Carroll of Calgary, before bouncing Salisbury 67-47. Linden Petersen had 16 points and Zach Morgan had 11 against Wagner, Peterson hit for 18 points and Morgan added 15 against Bishop Carroll, and Petersen paced the Lightning with a 30-point outing and Steel McDonald netted 12 in their lone win.
Leduc defeated Lester B. Pearson 87-71 in the final, while Grande Prairie took consolation honours with a 66-62 win over Bishop Carroll.
l The host Raiders rolled over Hunting Hills 61-40 in the girls championship contest. Elizabeth Morneault netted 15 points and Kelsey Lalor scored 13 for the winners, while Madi Nimmo and Kristen Loney each had eight for the Lightning.
Thurber opened with a 78-27 thumping of Central Alberta Christian, getting 16 points from each of Morneault and Lalor, then advanced to the final with a 76-60 victory over Bishop Carroll as Morneault and Lalor drained 15 points apiece.
Hunting Hills was a 66-41 winner over W.P. Wagner as Nicole Fischer scored 12 points and Loney contributed 11, then got 18 points from Fischer and 15 from Allie Busch in a 67-63 semifinal victory over Leduc.
Leduc beat Bishop Carroll 49-46 in the bronze-medal game and Central Alberta Christian defeated W.P. Wagner 40-35 in the consolation final.