A late burst of offense was enough for the Lindsay Thurber Raiders senior girls’ basketball team to claim a City championship.
Despite a back and forth battle in the second game of the Red Deer City final series at Hunting Hills High School last Thursday, a huge 6-0 run in the final two minutes allowed the Raiders to complete the series sweep of the Hunting Hills Lightning to lay claim to the gold.
“Tonight it was just a battle. I don’t even know how many times the lead changed, I think six or seven times. Maybe even 10 times. Both teams wanted it,” said Raiders’ Head Coach Kathy Lalor after her team’s narrow 52-51 victory over the Lightning on Thursday evening.
After posting a huge 57-45 victory in their home gym in the first game of the best of three series on March 7th, the Raiders knew coming into last Thursday night’s contest they would be in for a fight.
Right from the opening tip off it seemed as though the Lightning were going to give them that fight. As for the first five minutes of the first quarter neither team were able to find the other’s basket to break the deadlock.
That didn’t last long though as the Thurber girls went on the offense in the remaining minutes of the quarter to take a 15-3 lead after the opening frame.
But the Lightening weren’t about to sit back and watch their season tick away before their eyes and responded with a 20-point effort in the second quarter, enough to take a 23-19 lead into halftime.
“They responded well to me challenging them. We did not come out to a strong start tonight and I challenged them on it and they had an amazing second quarter. I challenged my posts to rebound tonight and holy smokes did they ever step up and I told my kids to attack the basket,” said Lightning Head Coach Jill de Jonge of her team’s play in the matchup.
“When we were attacking the basket we were scoring and occasionally in girls’ athletics they lose their heads and they just stop doing what’s working, which happened occasionally and it hurt us.”
Thurber came out with a vengeance in the third though, opening the second half with an 11-0 run to once again jump into the lead.
It didn’t last long, however. Hunting came roaring back with a run of their own, eventually tying the game up at 32 heading into the final four minutes of the quarter. Thurber would eventually take a narrow 39-36 lead into the fourth thanks to a late three-pointer from Hayley Lalor.
The three capped off a huge 11-point third quarter for the Grade 12 student, who went on to record 23 points on the night.
That set up a wild fourth quarter that went right down to the wire as both teams struggled to gain an upper hand.
Eventually though, the Raiders’ offense proved to be too much for Hunting Hills as the Thurber girls capitalized on some late mistakes by the Lightning to claw their way to a four-point lead in the final 10 seconds.
The Lightning took a timeout and drew up what they hoped would be a four-point play but the Raiders backed off, allowing them to shoot a final buzzer beating three pointer to seal the deal. Final score: 52-51.
“We’re just proud of our girls. They’ve worked really hard this year. You always have your ups and downs, we’ve had some injuries and we’ve battled through those things and now what I love about this is that we get a chance to go and compete with some of the best teams in the province and see how we do,” said Kathy, adding that she was excited to see how well the Hunting Hills team competed.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve really had a series that was this tight and really that’s what basketball should be, that’s what it’s like in really every other part of the province, so it was awesome.”
Meanwhile, the Notre Dame Cougars senior boys’ basketball team weren’t able to pick up the gold medal in their City final series against the Lacombe Composite High School Rams. The Cougars ended up with a silver medal after falling 54-50 in game three of their best of three series.