Besides building a championship team, RDC Queens basketball head coach Ken King would love to add local talent.
“We’d love to add girls from Red Deer and Central Alberta,” he said. “We are trying to make sure we can do our part to grow interest in the game and the quality of the game here.”
King will add one of the top players out of Central Alberta next season with the addition of Hunting Hills star forward Kristen Loney.
The 17-year-old has the size, strength, athletic ability and overall desire for the game to step in at the next level.
“Kristen has an athletic build and attitude to help her develop once she gets to college,” added King. “She will have the opportunity to grow a lot playing against a lot of competitive people in practice and in a different atmosphere.”
Loney indicated she will also play with the newly formed U18 Queens Club team.
“Playing club and practising with us at the college it will give her a chance to develop in the off season,” said King, who likes the fact she enjoys playing inside.
“That’s huge in that she likes the physicality and doesn’t allow that physicality to affect her emotions, which will serve her well.”
“I’ve always played inside and enjoy that part of the game … I feel rebounding is a strength,” she said.
Loney was born and raised in Red Deer and got into basketball in Grade 5.
“I had two brothers who played and that’s the reason I got into it,” she explained.
She also plays volleyball, soccer, handball and runs cross-country, but decided to try to play post-secondary in basketball while in Grade 9.
“We had an awesome team, coached by Jody Potts,” she said. “We were so close as a team that year and most of the same girls carried on to Grade 12.
‘The other sports I enjoy but mainly got into them because my friends were doing them.”
Although she likes playing inside, Loney, who is listed at close to six-foot, attended point guard camps in Seattle the last two years.
“I know it was for guards, but I just kind of showed up anyway,” she said with a laugh. “But it was good. I handled the ball a lot and in college I won’t be the tallest so I have to have other strengths as well, other than just being tall.”
Loney played in the high school 4A basketball playoffs in Red Deer last weekend and also in the 3A-4A Senior Bowl at RDC on Monday. She had 17 points in the Senior Bowl and was one of the leaders during the provincials, which saw the Lightning finish tied for 13th.
“We wanted to play better, but it was an awesome experience,” she said. “It was nice playing against tough teams. We went in (ranked 14th) and were hoping to finish higher and technically we did.”
Loney indicated she learned a thing or two at the provincials.
“I realized I needed to step up my game against tough competition,” she said. “You have to work harder to get better. One thing I did learn is that I need to finish better. It kind of gets in my head and I don’t finish as much as I want.”
She hopes to continue to work on that with the club program, prior to joining the Queens.
“The more I get to play the better,” she said.