The Lindsay Thurber Raiders cut down the nets after winning Game 2 64-36 of their City Championship best-of-three series against the Hunting Hills Lightning. Todd Colin Vaughan

The Lindsay Thurber Raiders cut down the nets after winning Game 2 64-36 of their City Championship best-of-three series against the Hunting Hills Lightning. Todd Colin Vaughan

Lacombe Ram boys fall in two games to Raiders; Raider Girls overcome Lightning

Lacombe Rams season ended after being down two starters in Game 2

Lacombe Rams 43-76 Lindsay Thurber Raiders

The Lindsay Thurber Raiders Senior Boys Basketball team punched their ticked to the 4A Provincial Championships in Edmonton after winning Game 2 of their three-game series 76-43.

“I am really proud of the boys. We have been on a hot streak through the end of the season. This was our eighth straight win, but we did it through defensive consistency,” Raiders Coach Joel Carroll said.

After a promising Game 1 that saw the Lacombe Rams Senior Boys Basketball team carry a 10-point halftime lead before ultimately falling 81-71 to the Lindsay Thurber Raiders, the Rams were looking to buck the losing trend.

The first quarter had a glimmer, with Rams Forward Richard Jans hitting a three to put his squad up 15-14 heading into the second quarter.

The Raiders in the second, however, started raising the pressure against Rams squad that was down two starters — including key energy starter Lubenson Pannebecker. The Rams would only manage three points in the quarter, while the Raiders would go on a scoring tear leading to a 33-18 lead at halftime that Rams were unable to come back from.

Quaid Arra and Basit Karimy both finished with 12 points to lead the Raiders to the win, with Richard Jans leading all Rams scorers with nine points

“We were without Lubenson, who is our ultimate energy guy and our best rebounder. You saw it today,” Rams Coach Tylor Johannesson said. “We were up after a quarter, with two of our starters gone. We didn’t rebound the ball well and we only scored three points after being up in the second quarter, after being up after one.”

Despite the loss, Johannesson said he is proud of his team that he says was the surprise team of the league.

“We lost to Hunting Hills by 40 in January, but we grew more than any other team in our league and won a semifinal game,” he said. “We should have won Game 1 against Thurber if it wasn’t for some silly mistakes.

“Overall, if you told me we would make the championship and get this kind of experience for our young kids — we are only losing two guys, so we have some guys coming up that know how to play.”

Johannesson gave credit to his veteran Grade 12 for setting the example this season.

“It starts with Richard Jans. He has been a senior since Grade 10. Me and him butted heads a bit throughout the year but it was healthy. He battled through and it was amazing,” he said. Luke Miller struggled with some injuries but he is an incredible human being and I will hopefully have him back on the coaching staff next year. He is one of the most enjoyable people I have ever met.

Eddie (Drost) and Kyle (Snethlage) didn’t play a lot, but they kept coming to practices and working. A lot of guys may of quit, but they were always working hard to make us better.”

He added, “The future is bright. We are looking forward to next year and we plan to be here next year.”

Carroll said the Rams were similar to his team — peaking at the right time.

“You have to weather those runs and you have to find your identity when you are playing for something. Anything can happen in these games,” he said.

The Raiders now move on to Provincials, where they will likely not receive a favourable seeding.

“For a long time going into that tournament, we have looked at it as good experience,” Carroll said. “My dream for Lindsay Thurber and central Alberta basketball is to start making an impact there.

“You are playing against the best players in the province. I am excited for the challenge and I am excited to go in there with a mission.”

He added, “I am proud of the boys. Thurber is an incredible school and it has had a great sports season.”

Lindsay Thurber Raiders 64-36 Hunting Hills Lightning

The Senior Raider girls were also looking to win their series in two games to secure a spot at provincials.

Luckily, strong shooting nights from both Jamie Lalor, who finished with 10 points, and Hannah Wirtanen, who finished with nine points, ultimately led to 64-36 victory.

“They were hard fought battles and I don’t even feel like the score tonight was reflective of the game. I really feel Hunting Hills gave us all we can handle,” Raider Coach Kathy Lalor said.

Lalor said they are hoping for an upset win when they ultimately play a higher-seeded team at provincials.

“Last year we went up against the three-seed and lost by seven points,” she said. “I think we are ready to give somebody a good game and upsets happen all the time.

”You coach the kids to believe they can get the job done no matter who they are playing and in the last month we have improved so much.”

Lalor was impressed with the entire league this season.

“Hunting Hills and Notre Dame — we lost to both of those teams this year, so I feel we had a good season,” she said. I think that adds to us playing better basketball.

“Wetaskwin was the class of the league this year — you always want to get a game back to play them again. They were a hard working successful team and they didn’t even have a close game this year.”

She added, “It is so good to see all these fans out watching basketball in Red Deer. It makes for a good future with people in Red Deer seeing basketball as something they want to support.”

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