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Kings latest number one to lose

Trojans 79 Kings 76

There could be something about it being a jinx being ranked No. 1 in the country.

For the third week in a row the top team in the Canadian men’s basketball rankings tasted defeat. This time it was the RDC Kings, who dropped a 79-76 decision to the SAIT Trojans in Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League play before a near full house at RDC Saturday.

“We have a target on our backs and the guys are trying to learn to play from in front,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger. “But full credit to SAIT. They came out and played their butts off and weren’t intimidated, while we came out flat.”

The Kings, who beat the Trojans by 21 points at SAIT Friday, didn’t resemble the top team in the country as their offence wasn’t sharp and they lacked defensive intensity. The Trojans, on the other hand, seemed to hit everything they threw up and used their athleticism to control the boards, except for Kings six-foot-eight Sam Lolik.

In fact without Lolik, who had 18 first-half points, the Kings would have been out of the game in the first half. As it was the Trojans led 25-17 after one quarter and 45-39 at the half.

“We didn’t play great defence as we were waiting for them to lie down and teams don’t do that in this league,” said Pottinger.

The Kings trailed by as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter, but once they started to pick up their intensity on defence and get into their transition game they narrowed the gap to two, twice. In fact they had a pair of excellent opportunities to tie the game, but missed inside shots. Lloyd Strickland narrowed the gap to 78-76 late in the fourth quarter with a three, then when the Trojans Justin Makasiar missed one of two free throws the Kings had a chance to tie with 4.7 seconds remaining. Strickland had a good look at a three, but it was just off.

“It’s difficult when you’re starting to have some success to continue that success,” added Pottinger. “You think you’re doing everything right . . . you preach to the guys in practice, but we’re still making a lot of mistakes, we try to clean those things up, but you don’t believe it until you lose.”

Pottinger expected the Kings to lose at one point this season.

‘I’m glad to get it out of the way this early in the season. Now we can start the process of getting good again,” he said. “We have to learn to play like champions night in and night out and find a way to win, not hope to pull out a victory.

“If we learn then this will be a loss we can learn from.”

Lolik finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds while Joel Carroll had 13 points, Rob Pierce 12 points and nine rebounds and Strickland 10 points, Makasiar had 18 points and Kat Magak 16 for the Trojans, who shot 47.6 per cent from the field compared to 36.5 for RDC.

Trojans 87 Queens 56

The Trojans utilized their strong pressure defence to force the rookie-laden Queens into numerous turnovers, which was a major difference in the 87-56 victory by the Calgary squad.

“We’re young and every time a team presses us like that we get into trouble,” said Queens head coach Mike Woollard. “We like to let each rookie make one mistake, but that’s 14 to start with.”

The Queens finished with 31 turnovers and that may have been a bit generous.

Woollard would like to see his team grow up a bit faster, but he also knows that’s asking a lot from a team that has two second-year players, both of whom saw limited playing time last year. In fact Sarah Williamson, played less than a half Saturday as she appeared to receive a concussion.

“We have to continue to work and get better,” said Woollard. “We have another two tough games this week (Friday at home against The Kings’ University College and Saturday at Lakeland).

“Following that we get a break and we can come back with fresh minds and try not look at ourselves as rookie in the second half.”

On a positive side, when the Trojans weren’t in their full court press the Queens moved the ball as good as they have all season and even won the fourth quarter 23-21.

“When we’re not dealing with pressure the entire way we’re executing better in our half-court offence,” said Woollard. “But teams aren’t backing off the press . . . they smell blood.”

Morgan Schultz led RDC with 15 points while Kaitlin Bracko added 10 points and five rebounds. Fifth-year guard Rachel Caputo had 22 points for SAIT.

The win gave SAIT head coach Donovan Martin his 400th career victory.



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