There won’t be any secrets when the RDC Kings host the Keyano Huskies of Fort McMurray in the best-of-three Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League quarter-finals.
The two clashed in the Kings final game of the regular season in Fort McMurray with the Huskies winning 96-83. However the Kings led most of the way before sitting back in the fourth quarter.
“In the end it’s a wash as we saw each other and they have an idea what we can and can’t do and the same for us,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger. “We lost by 13 points, but were in control most of the game, so we won’t be sneaking up on them and they shouldn’t feel, just because they won, it will be easy. It should be a battle.”
The Kings get home court advantage as they finished second in the South Division with an 11-7 record while Keyano was third in the north at 14-6.
The playoff opens Friday at 7 p.m. at RDC with the second game Saturday at 7 p.m. and the third, if necessary, Sunday at 1 p.m.
But playing at home isn’t that much of an advantage, according to Pottinger.
“It’s great to play at home, but I don’t think it’s a home court advantage as we’ve played well on the road and at times have stunk at home. The thing is we need to be consistent and play our best basketball.”
The Kings put together a solid second half of the season with a 7-2 record, but both those losses came on the final weekend.
“It was a tough weekend, but you can see the difference in our practice of late. The guys are going hard with more resolve. Probably in a weird way we needed something like that (the losses) to happen. It opened the guys eyes a bit.
“We won seven in a row, which proved we can beat anybody, but the two losses showed we can lose to anybody as well.”
The Kings have close to two weeks to prepare for the playoffs and Pottinger has made sure his squad is healthy.
“We did a good job of getting our rest, getting enough water and stretching, all those things so the guys are ready to go.”
Pottinger knows it will be tough, especially stopping ACAC scoring leader Zach Waldner, who averaged 25.42 points per game and a league best 5.74 assists per game.
“They are a very talented team with one of the best players in the nation,” he said. “He’s a dynamic guard who can penetrate and really shoot the ball. We’ll have our hands full with him and have been trying to devise a plan to slow him down a bit. But at the same time we can’t just focus on him and let someone else beat us.”
The Kings strength is their quickness and transition game.
“Our transition game wasn’t as good late in the season and we’ll have to do better to win. Plus when we play a solid man-to-man defence I believe we’ll get more stops then them.
“But then we were a little soft against them in the fourth quarter and it made a huge difference.”
While the Kings will look to stop Waldner they’ll need Rob Pierce to step up. Pierce finished the season with 19 points per game, second-best in the south, and was second in the ACAC with 11.22 rebounds per game. Lloyd Strickland led the south and was second overall with 5.06 assists per game.
• The RDC Queens clash with the Mount Royal University Cougars in the ACAC women’s hockey semifinals.
The best-of-five series opens Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Flames Community Arenas in Calgary with the second game Sunday at 3:15 p.m. at the Red Deer Arena. The third game is March 2 in Calgary with the fourth, if necessary, March 3 at 8:15 p.m. at the Arena and the fifth, if needed, March 4 in Calgary.
Grant MacEwan and NAIT clash in the other semifinal.
• Both RDC volleyball teams are at the ACAC finals this weekend — the men, hosted by Briercrest, at Moose Jaw and the women at Medicine Hat.
The Kings are seeded No. 1 and meet SAIT at 3 p.m. Thursday while Lethbridge clashes with Keyano, NAIT meets Mount Royal and Grant MacEwan takes on Briercrest
The Queens are ranked fourth and meet NAIT at 1 p.m. Thursday while Lakeland takes on Mount Royal, Grande Prairie faces Grant MacEwan and Medicine Hat clashes with SAIT.
The semifinals in both playoffs go Friday with the finals at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
• The ACAC curling finals are set to open Friday in Camrose. RDC has teams involved in the men’s and women’s divisions.
• Badminton’s Mizuki Awai won the Boston Pizza RDC female athlete of the week award.
The native of Japan teamed with Mary Smith to win the ACAC women’s doubles title, which earned them a berth in the national finals, March 1-3 in Kamloops.
Awai also won all four of her matches in the team event, helping RDC win bronze.