By DANNY RODE
Special to the Advocate
Rattlers 96 Kings 82
MEDICINE HAT — RDC Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger went into Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s basketball championship bronze medal game with the idea of letting everyone play.
“We decided that we’d let everyone play early on and as the game wore on we’d tighten up the bench and try to win it,” he explained.
But by the time he even thought about going to the bench they trailed 22-6 in the first quarter.
“From then on it was an uphill battle, but we still wanted to get everyone in. We stuck with the game plan and the bench guys played well. In fact our bench outscored their bench (24-20),” he said.
The Kings trailed 28-14 after the first quarter then outscored the Rattlers 27-23 in the second and 20-17 in the third. However they ran out of gas in the final 10 minutes.
“It was the same old story, just not enough juice in the final quarter,” said Pottinger, who finished fourth for the second year in a row.
“All in all it was a tough tournament. The South Division was so close all season and so competitive any team could step up and win it.”
The SAIT Trojans, who tied with the Kings and Lethbridge or second place in the South behind Medicine Hat, got on a roll and ran away with the title, beating Lethbridge 85-65 in the final.
“They got hot at the right time, just like NAIT did last year,” said Pottinger. “We ran into them in the semifinals and gave them a battle, but…”
The Kings will lose their two inside stars — Matt Matear and Shayne Stumpf — to graduation. Pottinger will know in the next couple of weeks who will be returning.
But he did like what he saw from his bench, which included a number of rookies.
“They did a good job. I was glad to get our young guys some playing time which will benefit them in the future.”
One of the first-year players — Cody White — finished with six points. In fact all but Zach Morgan hit the scoresheet.
ACAC player of the year, Ian Tevis led the Kings with 22 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals while Spencer Klassen had 10 points, five boards, five helpers and three steals. Stumpf had nine points, eight rebounds and three assists and Matear seven points.
NAIT took fifth place with a 79-74 victory over Lakeland.
The women’s championship was dominated by the homestanding and undefeated Lethbridge Kodiaks.
The Kodiaks whipped St. Mary’s University Lightning 85-54 in the final. SAIT downed Medicine Hat 57-39 to win bronze and NAIT took fifth with a 70-61 win over Concordia.
NAIT hosts the women’s national finals.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com.