OLDS – The RDC Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger was confident heading into the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League championships.
But after dropping a 97-82 decision to the Keyano College Huskies in the bronze medal game Saturday afternoon Pottinger stepped back and reflected on what he saw during the tournament.
“There’s a lot of parity in this league and if I’m completely honest I’d say we were the third or fourth best team here this week,” he said. “Take nothing away from our guys, but Medicine Hat, NAIT and Keyano are very good teams.”
In the end the NAIT Ooks captured gold and a berth in the CCAA finals in Fort McMurray along with the host Huskies with a thrilling 71-69 victory over the Medicine Hat Rattlers.
To show just how close the Kings were, they lost 99-94 to the Ooks in the semifinal and missed a three-point shot with six seconds remaining that would have tied the game at 97.
Once again the third quarter did the Kings in on Saturday and once again it was their defence. The Kings trailed 20-19 and 42-39 the first two quarters, then were outscored 30-18 in the third and never could recover.
“We felt optimist going into the third,” said Pottinger. “We made a couple of changes to take back the momentum, but they didn’t work. It was the same thing, our defence let us down and we were unable to step up.”
The Kings went to a trap defence in an effort to get back in the game and while they did narrow the gap to 13 twice in the fourth quarter the Huskies were able to break the trap when they needed to and get easy hoops.
“It was either feast or famine with the press and while we turned the ball over at times we also gave up some good chances,” said Pottinger, who also played much of the second half without inspirational leader JP LeBlanc, who got into foul trouble.
“JP was great, but we had to sit him when he got into foul trouble. We got him back in in the second half but he fouled out and that was the last nail in the coffin. Not that it was all on one guy, but he simply was having a great game.”
LeBlanc, who was playing his final game with the Kings had 17 points in less than 15 minutes of playing time.
Anthony Ottley, the RDC player of the game, finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Matt Matear had 13 points, 11 boards and five assists. Rodney Teal and Khurram Sultan had nine points each.
The fourth place finish was one ahead of last year, but lower than Pottinger expected this season. In fact the Kings were 9-0 at the Christmas break and one of the top teams in the country. But they lost several players, including team scoring leader Ian Tevis, all-star Tyler Wise with a back injury, and Benny and Henry Bankazo.
“That was a lot of talent to lose, but give our guys credit,” said Pottinger. “They never gave up and worked hard to the end.”
Meanwhile NAIT made it a complete sweep, winning the women’s title in Lloydminster 69-66 over St. Mary’s University. Lethbridge defeated Lakeland 91-61 in the bronze medal game.