With a timeout late and a four-point game, the frenzied home court crowd tried to will the Notre Dame Cougars back into the game.
Only it was Lindsay Thurber Raiders senior boys star Jared Lower who silenced the gym, hitting a dagger of a three-pointer who less than a minute on the clock.
The Raiders closed out a 72-63 win over the Cougars in the first round of Central Alberta Schools Athletic Association play.
Lindsay Thurber lead 48-46 to start the fourth quarter and cashed in seven straight points in the first minute and 12 seconds.
Raiders coach Carl Light’s team was relentless with a full-court press all night long and it has been their mantra all season.
He added that a plan for how to play the Cougars had been weeks in them making.
“Our philosophy is run and respect Raider basketball. We’re all about the full-court press and going baseline-to-baseline for as long as possible. Break the other team down and slowly chip away on offence,” he said.
“Very proud of the boys. W’ve been setting up this game plan since the last time we played them, tonight it was all about execution not the outcome, and we executed perfectly, now they get to enjoy the outcome.”
Light said Lower, who had 11 points in the fourth quarter alone, was the player of the game and a clutch performer all season long.
“He’s our sixth man, he’s a beauty. He our energizer bunny,” Light said.
Vincent Martin and Rudy Soffo lead the way for the Cougars with 16 points each.
In the one versus four, 4A senior boys game, the Lacombe Rams beat the Hunting Hills Lightning 67-43.
Lacombe will travel to Lindsay Thurber on Tuesday to take on the Raiders. Game two of the best-of-three series will go Thursday in Lacombe.
On the senior girls side, the Raiders continued their perfect season with a dominant 50-27 win over Lacombe.
Raiders head coach Kathy Lalor said while on paper the win looked great, there’s a lot of areas her team needs to shore up before Tuesday when they play Hunting Hills.
“We didn’t play with enough intensity to start the game,” Lalor said.
“I just didn’t think we were taking quality shots tonight. They were good shots, but the shot itself – we were in a spot to take a really good shot, but the shot itself wasn’t good.”
On the defensive side the Raiders limited Lacombe in the second half, shutting them down and continually forcing turnovers. That ultimately made the difference for Lindsay Thurber in the win.
“Some things we put in defensively I thought we did well tonight. We did a better job of rebounding in the second half. Offensively I don’t think we did as well as we know we could have.”
Hayley Lalor cashed in 22 points for the Raiders and was the only Lindsay Thurber player in double digits.
Rachael Wood and Danielle Wilson each had six points for the Rams in the loss.
The win for Lindsay Thurber sets up a best-of-three with the Hunting Hills Lightning beginning on Tuesday. The girls will tip off a double header at 6 p.m.