Thurber Raiders aim to build on solid foundation

They’re young and talented, but both Lindsay Thurber Raiders senior basketball teams need time to reach their potential.

They’re young and talented, but both Lindsay Thurber Raiders senior basketball teams need time to reach their potential.

“In terms of years of experience we’re young, but the kids are good athletes and willing to compete,” said boys’ head coach Dwayne Lalor, who has four Grade 10s on the 12-man roster.

Girls’ head coach Kathy Lalor doesn’t have any Grade 10s, but she also doesn’t a starter back from last year.

“We also have only three Grade 12s, but we had a strong JV team last year and we have a group of girls who are on the same page, work hard and are learning a lot.”

Dwayne Lalor has five Grade 12s back from last year. In fact outside of the Grade 10s, and Grade 11 forward Erik Hoehne, all the players played with the senior team last season.

“And really two of the Grade 10s were starters with the senior volleyball team, so they’re used to playing against older kids,” said Lalor.

Six-foot-six post Tanner Rehn started in the middle and guard Matt Graham at setter for the volleyball squad.

The other two Grade 10s are Gaige Rehn and six-foot-four Parker Cook.

“We had a good group of Grade 9s last year, but the main reason we kept four 10sis because a couple of the Grade 11s were injured, so we kept them on the JV team,” explained Lalor.

Jonah Penner, Kane Weik, six-foot-four DeMarcus Adamson, Erik Steenwyk and Daniel Grab are the seniors on the roster.

Six-foot-one Grade 11 point guard Spencer Klassen is looked at to provide much of the leadership.

“He’s a second-year starter and understands what we want and knows how to change the defences and run the offence,” explained Lalor, who looks at Klassen and Penner to provide much of the outside scoring.

“We want to spread the scoring around, but with Jonah and Spencer scoring from the outside it opens things up inside. DeMarcus and Tanner play a lot together and give us strength under the basket. They hold their own on rebounding unless they’re up against guys with more physical strength.”

Lalor likes to use everyone on the roster.

“We want to focus on a team aspect where everyone is involved and we can use a number of combinations.”

Kathy Lalor believes in a similar philosophy.

“We have a good group who are coming together as a team,” she said. “We need that to continue to grow. The nice thing is we have girls whose first love is basketball. We also have four-or-five who also play volleyball, but they’re still keen.”

Lalor has four girls back from last year in Grade 12s Jenna Stone, Taylor Heist and Cassidy LeMasurier and Grade 11 Amy Whitesell. All but Stone, who is a five-foot-five wing, are listed at five-foot-eight and play up front.

Other members of the team are guards Mikaela Kykkanen and Erin Seater, wings Raeanne Moore, Cara Vandervlis and Rachel Bysterveld and post players Mikayla Morneault, Janelle Van Tetering and Blyss Gellert.

The Raiders don’t have anyone over five-foot-nine, but they have six players at five-foot-eight and up.

“We don’t have any real big girls, but overall I think we’re faster,” said Lalor. “The thing is to get our skill up to that speed. But from what I’ve seen everything is positive. I like the way our defence has come along and we’ve been working on the offence for the last couple of weeks.”

The Raiders got off to a slow start to the season, but also played several of the top teams in the province.

“That was good,” said Lalor. “We got a chance to play three of the top 12 teams in the province and that only helped our development.”

LTCHS returns to Central Alberta league play Tuesday when they host Notre Dame. The girls tip off at 6 p.m. with the boys to follow.

The LTCHS tournament goes Feb. 10-11.

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