It never gets old.
For the second time in three years RDC Kings basketball head coach Clayton Pottinger was named the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference South coach of the year. And to add a little more luster to the award he will represent the ACAC in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association coach of the year voting.
“As I said before I view this as a team of the year and coaching staff of the year award,” said Pottinger, following the ACAC championship tournament banquet at the i-Hotel Thursday.
“There is so much that goes into it. It takes a lot for a team’s success and when you’re fortunate enough to be at the forefront you get some of the accolades. I’m happy for the team and the coaching staff.
“But don’t get me wrong I’ll take it home with me,” he said laughing.
It was Pottinger’s hard work and ability to recruit some of the best athletes in the ACAC that led to the team’s success since he joined the program three years ago.
“If you look at that perspective, to put the team together and see it through is a dream come true. So much goes into it. You need skill, attention to detail, getting the right people and luck. We’ve been fortunate over the last three years in that our effort and luck made things go our way. It was a combination of things that contributed to our success and to this award.”
The Kings finished second to Mount Royal in 2012 and won the league title last year. They finished first in the league standings during the regular season this year and go into the ACAC finals as the No. 1 seed.
Two fifth-year members of the Kings — Lloyd Strickland and Jacob Cusumano — were with the team when Pottinger arrived after coaching Douglas College in New Westminster.
“A lot of credit to them. They brought a bit of experience and helped us lay the foundation to where we’re at right now. Because of those guys we were able to bring in guys like Brian Prenoslo, Matt Johnson and Rob Pierce to name just a few.”
Pierce, who came into the program the first year Pottinger arrived has also played a major role in the team’s development. He was a first-team All-Conference player the last two seasons and although schooling and work has interfered with his playing time this season he’s still a team leader.
“Rob is definitely a steading force on the team, a real emotional and physical leader,” said Pottinger. “When a player like Rob buys into the program it makes us that much stronger.”
Pierce didn’t make the All-Conference team this because of his lack of playing time, but Clay Crellin and Strickland were named to the South’s first All-Conference team along with Dom Coward of Lethbridge, Antonio Holmes of Medicine Hat and James Wohlgeschaffen of Briercrest.
Travis Butt and Chris Maughan of Lethbridge were on the second team along with Randall Mosca of St. Mary’s, Christian Sacoman of Briercrest and Shayne Stumpf of SAIT.
Yonas Berhe of NAIT, Jamaal Bucknor of Concordia, Blake Gallatly of Keyano, Emmanuel Jones of Lakeland and Denzel Williamson-James of Grant MacEwan were on the North’s first All-Conference team with Michael Clemons and Jordan Teo of Grande Prairie, Lee Danderfer of Augustana, Keith Gerdes of MacEwan and David Shantz of Concordia on the second team.
Eric Magdanz of MacEwan was the North coach of the year while Gallatly was named the rookie of the year.
Berhe and Coward were named to the All-Canadian team with Coward the ACAC player of the year and will representative the conference in the CCAA player of the year voting.
The ACAC championship opens today at RDC with the Kings facing Medicine Hat at 6 p.m.
Medicine Hat is one of three teams to defeat the Kings this season.
“All three losses were real eye openers,” said Pottinger. “They humbled us and made us understand that we have to continue to get better and since those moments we have. I really believe we’re ready for this tournament. I think this team is as deep and as experienced as any team we’ve had over the three years.”
Crellin won’t play today after receiving a technical foul in the final league game.
“Losing an all-star changes things up, but we’re blessed with depth and we’ve won without Clay and Mari (Peoples-Wong) before so we will go into with confidence and the guys who need to step up will step up and take care of business.”
The tournament opens Briercrest facing Lethbridge at 1 p.m. and Concordia clashing with Grant MacEwan at 3 p.m. Keyano and NAIT meet at 8 p.m. The semifinals go Saturday at 6 and 8 p.m. with the final Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
The women’s championship is in Olds this weekend.
• The RDC Queens were as talented as any team in the ACAC Women’s Hockey League and it showed in the all-star voting.
Goaltender Camille Trautman, defenceman Casey Nicholson and forward Jade Petrie were all named to the first all-star team with forward Rachael Hoppins on the second team.
Defenceman Carlin Boey of NAIT and forwards Sherry Bowles of NAIT and Sasha Lutz of MacEwan were on the first team. Goaltender Morgan Glover, rearguard Tori Spencer and forward Kailey Curran of MacEwan and defenceman Cora Sutton and forward Becca Glackin of SAIT fill out the second team.