By Macalan B-J
Remembrance Day weekend was a big one for Thunder basketball with both the men’s and women’s teams playing back-to-back home games against the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves (GPRC).
Starting with the women, Sofia Lucadello was a force to be reckoned with over the weekend. In game one against the Wolves, she put up 18 points in 24 minutes. The Thunder won that game 72 to 49. “I thought played okay,” Lucadello said after the game. “I know Grande Prairie isn’t the strongest, so it was a good game to get all the little kinks out. It’s tough playing against a team that hasn’t gotten a win all year, but we practise the same way. Mentally, it’s harder to prepare for games like this. This isn’t to take anything away from Grande Prairie, they are a good team and work hard. These games are mentally tough and the hardest ones to win. The team and coaching staff does a good job to keep us calm when the games get off track.”
I asked Coach Robbie how he thought the team played after game one: “We got off to a slow start. We definitely aren’t where we were last week when we beat Lakeland. I have been preaching all week that we can’t underestimate the team on the bottom. I’ve been there, and it’s tough to motivate yourself against teams like Grand Prairie that are last in the division. Those teams are always hungry; Grande Prairie wants that first win and they are going to fight to get it.”
As far as game two goes, it may as well have been called The Morgan Dool Show. She scored 15 points and 7 rebounds off the bench in a highly contested 54-51 victory.
“Not the way we wanted to get the two wins,” reported Dool. “As long as we get the win though, we can’t be too upset.”
For our Thunder men, game one went back and forth and ended with a disappointing loss. Wolves forward Kenny Johnson made a strong claim for national player of the year with 31 points and 12 rebounds. 83-78 was the final score. Thunder forwards Mike Malin and Ryan McLaren both had big 22-point games, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to beat Johnson and the Wolves.
“We played pretty good–we just have to clean up our defense,” said Malin. “But at the end of the day, getting a win is what counts, and we weren’t able to do that.”
In game two, the Thunder had two things they were trying to prove: that they could shut down Johnson and that they would win the game. Johnson put up 32 points, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Thunder from getting the win in what turned out to be an exciting finish. The Thunder were trailing by two points late in the fourth quarter, and with 2.3 seconds on the clock, McLaren put up a three pointer which gave the Thunder a 79-78 lead, which eventually paved the way to a win. The crowd went wild and the players were ecstatic. Ralph King was shaking in the commotion.
McLaren stated, “to even have a chance at that shot is amazing! It feels good to help give our team a big lift. We needed this win badly and I’m glad I was a part of it. There wasn’t a lot of time left, and I knew I had to let it fly.”
What a game and what a shot. To see a game-winning three pointer is among the greatest moments in sports.
The next weekend had a more normal-looking schedule for both the men and women (one game at home and one game away). The Thunder were set to take on the King’s Eagles.
The Eagles men hadn’t won a game all year and that was not about to change. Two easy wins by the score of 96-74 and 90-81 respectively had the Thunder feeling good and put them in a four-way tie for second place in the conference with 12 points. Although the games were against the worst team in the league, it should be noted that McLaren has been playing huge for the Thunder, putting up 31 points in the second game of the two-game set.
Coach Regan gave this statement after the game: “The 81 points stand out. The shift in basketball these days is to be offense-driven, and that’s great for NBA teams that have guys that can score 130 points a game. In our 40-minute games, that’s a bit tougher. We have to play our game.”
The Eagles women have improved greatly from last year; however, they are still not up to par with the Thunder. The first game at King’s ended 70-52, which accurately reflected the skill levels of both teams. Unfortunately, the second game of the set played at Concordia was not as good. Although we won 44-38, it was the worst game i have seen our Thunder play. The first quarter ended with a 6-6 tie. Within 10 minutes of play, 12 total points were scored. Coach Robbie was shaking his head after the game as I tried to get a statement about the team’s performance. He had nothing to say. Nevertheless, the Thunder women are on a 5-game win streak that has put them in a tie for first place with 16 points.
Keep it up, CUE athletics! Be sure to check the ACAC website for upcoming Thunder games.