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Hunting Hills senior basketball pushing for provincials

Their season kicks off next week
The Hunting Hills senior boys basketball team begins their season next week on Tuesday, Dec. 12. (Photo supplied by Hunting Hills High School)

The Hunting Hills senior boy’s basketball team have high expectations this season.

With the 4A provincial championships being held at Lindsay Thurber this season, the Lightning hope to secure the second spot at provincials.

They’ve not only returned the majority of their team from last year but they also have mostly Grade 12’s on their roster.

With their season opener right around the corner, they’ll play nine Grade 12s, three Grade 11s, and one Grade 10.

“This year we’re Grade 12 heavy, kind of by design. Knowing Lindsay Thurber was hosting provincials this year I think everybody in the league wanted to make sure they have an opportunity to compete for one of the two berths,” said Head coach Matt Tillapaugh.

Tillapaugh explained he feels they’ll be quite competitive this year based on the foundation they built last season, despite their lack of success in the win column.

The Lightning are expecting their returners to take a big step up. In addition, they recruited a few athletes who suited up for the senior football team including Adnesse Pannenbecker. They also welcomed two Grade 12 students from Belgium Arnaud Geuens and Thomas Berude.

“I’m also excited for the league because moving to 4A league and playing a home and home with everybody will allow some natural rivalries to build up as well as exposure for the fans,” he said.

“The schools that are all local will be bringing people to every game. That will be great for basketball in the Red Deer area to build the culture and make it a little bit more exciting for everybody.”

Last season the Lightning were knocked out in the semifinals of the central zone championship by Lindsay Thurber. They were a younger team then but Tillapaugh has seen a lot of growth since.

“This year the expectations are a lot higher for the compete level but I also know everyone else is in the same boat with loading up for provincials,” he said. “I think it starts with the athleticism. Six of the players are football players from this year’s team and all six were league all-stars.”

“You mix in the football players with their athleticism with the rest of our guys and we’re pretty balanced. I think we’ll be a high-energy team and you’ll see a lot of improvement as the year goes on.”

On the senior girl’s side, the Lightning are hoping to kill teams with their speed.

With a lack of height, head coach Shelby Ross said this season’s team is unique because they have a lot of players in the guard position.

“I’m trying to capitalize on our speed and they’re looking promising if we can hone in on those skills,” she said.

“It’s going to be interesting we’re working on those kinds of things. It’s different than normal teams. You usually have post work that you can do but that’s not the case this time so we have to change our dynamic.”

This year the girls have three Grade 12s followed by nine Grade 11s and two Grade 10s. Of those, eight are returning from last year’s team.

“Overall I expect us to be one of the fastest teams in the league,” she said. “Winning the league is the main goal because that’s what will get us to provincials.”

Both the senior boy’s and girl’s team will begin league play on Dec. 12 at Lindsay Thurber High School at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The Hunting Hills senior girls basketball team begins their season next week on Tuesday, Dec. 12. (Photo supplied by Hunting Hills High School)

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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