Raiders play usual style, too tough for Cougars

The Lindsay Thurber Raiders aren’t easy to play at the best of times.

Lindsay Thurber Raider Gradyn Bowd crashes into Notre Dame Cougar Cameron Ehnes as Cougar Tim Finnigen sprawls on the court at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Tuesday night.

Lindsay Thurber Raider Gradyn Bowd crashes into Notre Dame Cougar Cameron Ehnes as Cougar Tim Finnigen sprawls on the court at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School Tuesday night.

Raiders 80 Cougars 78

The Lindsay Thurber Raiders aren’t easy to play at the best of times.

They play with an all guns blazing style of offence and a spirited man defence, that doesn’t always spell success, but it does force the opposition to play with their heads in the game.

That style proved to much for the Notre Dame Cougars to overcome Tuesday as the Raiders recorded an 80-78 victory in Central Alberta High School Basketball League action at LTCHS.

“Thurber always plays tough . . . it’s a little like Russian Roulette, but their kids are competitive,” said Cougars head coach Stef Labrecque, whose squad was a bit shorthanded especially after losing star forward Tim Finnigan with an ankle injury just before the half.

Finnigan had 15 points when he went down, still the teams were tied 38-38 at the break.

“Losing Finnigan hurt, but don’t take anything away from the Comp,” added Labrecque.

Raiders head coach Dwayne Lalor liked the way his team competed, but also said Finnigan’s loss hurt the Cougars.

“We had trouble handling him in the first half and when he went down it changed what they did,” he said. “But they fought hard as did our guys. I thought we defended well and we also cut down on our fouls, which is something we’ve been trying to emphasize.

“We were outsized, but overall did a good job under the basket.”

The Cougars held a 54-52 lead after three quarters and increased the margin to seven points before the Raiders pressure defence forced a number of turn overs that brought them back and eventually into a 77-72 lead.

However, the Cougars Jordan Handel nailed a pair of threes in the final minute to make things interesting. In fact the Cougars had the ball in the final seconds, but couldn’t get a clear short away.

“We’ve been having a few internal problems of late and I think some of the guys need to do a better job of buying into what we do,” added Labrecque, who also had guard Kyle Devine playing with a charley horse.

“He wanted to play and showed a lot of heart,” added Labrecque.

The win assured the Raiders of finishing first in the zone 4A division and receiving a bye into the final against the winner of the Cougars-Hunting Hills semifinal game.

“That was big for us, now we have our sights set on winning the league,” added Lalor, who faces Rocky Mountain House Tuesday and Ponoka Feb. 25 to finish league play.

Ryan Clark led the Raiders with 27 points while Grady Bowd had 16, Tyson Hermanson 15 and Stephen Price 11. John Gronason had 13, Trent Schmidt 12 and Handel and John Sinclair 10 each for the Cougars.

Cougars 47 Raiders 46

Megan LaRocque’s free throw in the final seconds gave the Cougars the victory over the Raiders in girls’ action.

It completed a comeback for the Cougars, who trailed 37-30 after three quarters.

Raiders head coach Kathy Lalor gave the Cougars credit for the comeback.

“They did everything they needed to do to win,” she said. “They played with a lot of passion and obviously Terry (head coach Terry Finnigan) has done a good job. They continue to show a lot of improvement.”

But Lalor was also unhappy with her team’s effort.

“We didn’t rise to the occasion,” she said. “We didn’t play with enough passion to win. More than the coach has to be ready for the game. Everyone has to be ready to lay it on the line.”

Even with the loss the Raiders will likely finish first in the zone 4A division while the Cougars host Hunting Hills.

Kirsten Khatib led the Cougars with 15 points while Jenna Ronnie had 10. Sam Clutton hit 12 and Keitlyn Williams 10 for LTCHS.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com