Cougars 64 Lightning 51
Hunting Hills Lightning head coach Stephen Pottage wasn’t at a loss for words when it came to describing the difference between his team and the Notre Dame Cougars.
“The bottom line was that John (Goranson) was a man among boys,” he said following a 64-51 loss to the Cougars in Central zone 4A boys’ basketball play at Hunting Hills Thursday.
The Cougars won the opening game 61-48 Tuesday and swept the best-of-three affair, advancing to the provincial finals, March 17-19 at Ross Sheppard in Edmonton.
Goranson finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds and with at least half a dozen blocked shots.
“The athleticism, size and speed, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like it,” added Pottage. “He has a great nose for the ball, plus I can’t remember how many timely blocks he had on our guys. We seemed to be getting on a roll against them, narrowing the gap to under 10 points, and we’d come down and he’d get a block. He’s such a difference-maker.
‘He’d get the ball inside and power through us. It wasn’t illegal, but he’d go to the basket. Either that or he was grabbing a rebound and putting it back.”
Cougars head coach Dallas Wylie agreed.
“Today John came up big offensively while Tuesday he mainly was big on defence,” she said. “I told him before this game we needed to get a double-double from him and he powered up and came through. We wanted to post him up and feed the ball inside to him.
“In fact all our top guys came up big.”
Dario Viveros was also solid as he had 23 points and 10 rebounds.
“John, Dario and Jordan (Handel) are our top players and they played like it tonight,” added Wylie. “In fact everyone worked their butts off.”
The Cougars were ready for the game and weren’t about to give it away.
“We told the boys to treat this game like it’s the championship game. Don’t think about a second option, there was no second option. We needed to win this one and go to the provincials.”
The Cougars have been solid all season, but it wasn’t until the semester break that they really started to jell.
“We sat down after the break and talked about our goals and that was getting to the provincials,” said Wylie.
“We talked about what we had to do to do that and we went on a six game winning steak and made some huge steps from there. We started running the offence and Dario became a much more all-around player.”
Jesse Ward led the Lightning with 14 points while Kyle Klootwyk added 11.