RDC Kings basketball head coach Craig Behan would love to put together a championship calibre team that has a distinct local flavour.
Her took a step in that direction late last week with the commitment of Hunting Hills Lightning star post player Jared Ruston for next season.
The six-foot-nine Ruston is one of the premier big men in the province this season.
“It will take a little time for him to adapt to the college game, but he’s very athletic, long and jumps well,” said Behan. “Outside of Billy McNutt we haven’t had a big man who’ll give us a finishing touch inside in a long time.
“He certainly will be a good fit for us and it’s a good fit for him as well.”
Ruston is one of three players off the Lightning Behan is looking at for next season. He would also like to add forward Chris Karambamuchero and guard Pedro Porto Alegre along with forward Tim Finnigan of Notre Dame.
Behan is excited to see the number of quality players coming out of high school.,
“In the past there’s been some talent here, but possibly one or two guys who can play college ball while this year there’s five or six,” said Behan. “It’s a credit to the high school coaches.
“I always wanted to have more local players and keep the local talent here,” he continued. “That only helps the program so that I don’t have to go all across Canada to be competitive.”
The Hunting Hills players will all be in action tonight as they open the best-of-three Central Alberta zone 4A championships against the Lindsay Thurber Raiders at LTCHS.
The Raiders host the Lightning in both divisions with the girls tipping off at 6 p.m. and the boys to follow.
The teams meet Friday at Hunting Hills, with the girls once again tipping off at 6 p.m.
If third games in either series are necessary they’ll go Saturday at LTCHS. Action will begin at 6 p.m. no matter if there are one or two games.
l Meanwhile, the Lacombe Rams pulled off the only upset in the Central Alberta 3A boys’ and girls’ basketball playoffs Monday.
The Rams downed the No.1 ranked Ponoka Broncs 58-51 on the boys’ side with Shane Stumpf hitting 17 points and Brandt Kolybaba 13. Colin Horan had 15 points in a losing cause.
The Camrose Trojans downed the Wetaskiwin Sabres in the other boys’ semifinal while in girls’ action Wetaskiwin beat Ponoka and Camrose stopped Stettler. Scores were unavailable.
Both the zone boys and girls will qualify two teams for the provincial championships, set for March 18-20 in Medicine Hat.
On the girls’ side, Wetaskiwin meets Camrose in the A final tonight with the winner advancing to the provincials.
Ponoka takes on Stettler in a B semifinal tonight with the winner facing the A-side loser Friday to determine the second provincial qualifier.
In boys’ action, Lacombe and Camrose clash in the A final while Ponoka meets Stettler in the B semifinal. Both games are set for tonight with the B final going Friday.