Lindsay Thurber Raiders coach Kathy Lalor looks at the state of senior high girls basketball in Red Deer this season and sees a challenge for all three teams.
“I like the look of this season,” Lalor said Tuesday, looking back on last weekend’s Notre Dame Cougar Classic tournament, in which her club narrowly defeated the host team and lost to the Hunting Hills Lightning in overtime en route to posting a 1-2 record.
“What it tells me is the team that works the hardest is the team that going to get to represent the zone in the end, so that’s good. It’s good for Notre Dame and it’s good for us and for Hunting Hills.
“We’re all going to have to work hard this year.”
The Raiders didn’t have to shift into overdrive in their Central Alberta High School League season opener Tuesday, as Telaina Snider scored 20 points to lead the home squad to a 70-27 thrashing of the Rocky Mountain House West Central Rebels.
“Our practice yesterday was just our sixth of this season but some things are starting to come together,” said Lalor.
“We were working on a couple of new things today and, yeah, they started to work a bit better.
“We’ve also got more of a bench (than the Rebels). They only had nine players tonight and it can get tiring out there. They had us working on some things that we need to do defensively and I was happy with the girls because we hadn’t done as good a job (in the Notre Dame tournament) as I had hoped to.”
The Raiders also competed in the SAIT tournament at Calgary earlier this month, finishing with a 1-2 record.
“We had only a couple of practices before we went there, but I still think it’s a good thing to go — it gets you very quickly back into the game of basketball,” said Lalor.
“So we’re 3-4 going into the Christmas break, which is a good start to the season.”
The Raiders coach has five returning players this season — posts Snider and Trish Peter, wings Melissa McLellan and Taylor Heist and guard Keitlyn Williams.
“I’ve got players back in every position, which really helps my younger players,” said Lalor, whose team consists of seven Grade 12s, five Grade 11s and one Grade 10 student.
The first-year players are wings Sarah Pfeiffer, Jenna Stone and Amy Whitesell, posts Casey Link, Cassidy LeMasurier and Miranda Smith, and guards Sierra Bonham and Molli MacAulay.
The Raiders narrowly missed out on competing in the provincials last spring, losing 2-1 to Hunting Hills in a best-of-three zone final.
Due to a lack of height, the Thurber team will have to make certain adjustments on a game-by-game basis as the season wears on, said Lalor.
“We aren’t as big inside as some teams, so we will have to be more skilled. We’ll have to learn to run harder and do the little things right when playing against big players inside. But I do like the potential of this team.”
LeMasurier and Williams each added nine points for Lindsay Thurber in Tuesday’s win. Courtney Schultz scored nine for West Central, with Brittni Turner adding six.
Later, the Raiders nipped the Rebels 61-59 in the senior boys contest.
Brady Porter and DeMarcus Adamson each scored 11 points for Lindsay Thurber, which got an additional 10 from Daniel Grenier. Tyler Cole drained 15 points for the visitors, while Brayden Friesen scored 13 and Roman Justinen had 12.
In other senior girls action Tuesday, the Cougars fell 61-53 to the host Camrose Trojans.
Molly Li led Notre Dame with 13 points, while Megan Schmidt had 12 points and 13 rebounds and Taylor Penner chipped in with 10 points. Alyssa Clarkson had 25 for the winners.
l Amy Link scored 13 points to lead the Ponoka Broncs to a 36-33 win over the Notre Dame Cougars in JV girls action Monday.
Ashley Graf netted eight points for the Cougars.