Much to the chagrin of their opposition, the RDC Kings will get better as the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League season wears on.
Even now they’re plenty good enough as they displayed in an 85-67 victory over the SAIT Trojans in their regular-season opener at RDC Friday.
“Our team is still coming together,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger. “We did a great job in the first, second and third quarters, but still have to learn to finish once we’re up.”
The Kings led 21-16 in the first quarter and extended the margin to 45-28 at the half. They jumped into a 28-point lead in the third quarter before letting up. They still led 69-49 after three quarters and were actually outscored 18-16 in the final period.
“We did run into some problems with their size and skill at the bigs, but fortunately we rebounded well,” added Pottinger. “We knew they would score from inside, the key was to control the boards.”
The Kings finished with a 44-34 edge in rebounds, led by Benny Bankazo with 12, Brian Prenoslo with nine and Marcelus Clay with seven.
One of the strengths of a Pottinger team is defence and that was evident throughout the evening.
“It was a key, especially in the first half and early in the third,” said Pottinger. “(Jacob) Cusumano also got hot and we transitioned well and were able to pull away in spurts and blew the game open early in the third.”
Cusumano, who nailed four of seven from long distance, was the RDC player of the game with 24 points, while point guard Matt Johnson turned in a solid effort and had 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Bankazo added 16 points and JP Leblanc 11.
Lacombe native Shayne Stumpf had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Trojans.
Overall the Kings got a solid effort from their new players, including Matt Cumming and Ryan McCallum, who are just out of high school.
“Some of the new players still have some work to do, but Benny looked good at times and both high school kids executed and played hard,” said Pottinger. “We’re still waiting for Marcelus to show what he can do, but I thought in the fourth quarter he showed up on the boards especially.”
The Kings are also playing a bit short-handed with Tyler Wise, Brayden Daniel and Matt Mateur all out.
“We haven’t played at full strength this year yet, but it speaks of our depth when we can win and close out teams when we’re short-handed,” said Pottinger, who was impressed with Johnson.
“I think Matt is the best point guard in the league. He makes shots, controls the floor and defends. There’s a lot on his shoulders and there’s high expectations, but at the same time he loves it.”
Trojans 78 Queens 47
With only two veterans on their roster the RDC Queens have a lot to learn before they can expect to play among the elite teams.
Their shortcomings were on full display Friday in a 78-47 loss to the Trojans, who have seven veterans on their roster.
“We definitely showed our youth,” said Queens first-year head coach Ken King. “It’s not rocket science to fix it either. At times we showed we have talented players who can score, rebound and defend, but are just inexperienced for now.”
The Queens trailed 21-16 after the first quarter and 37-30 at the half. It was the third quarter that did them in as they were outscored 24-7.
In the end it was turnovers and fouls that hurt the most. They turned the ball over 39 times. Many of those ended with the Queens fouling as SAIT broke away.
Still, the fouls seemed a bit lopsided as the Trojans made 28 of 40 free throws while the Queens made four of seven.
But King wasn’t worried about the fouls; he just wants them to protect the ball.
“We need everybody to contribute,” he said. ‘The frustrating thing is we showed flashes of the way we can play when we control the ball. The final four minutes for example. But we need to start earlier.”
Still, there were some bright spots especially from true rookies such as Morgan Dool of Ponoka and five-foot-six Brenna Seymour of Meadow Lake, Sask.
“Brenna was a point guard coming in but we moved her to forward as she’s strong and rebounds well,” said King. “Morgan will be a fantastic point guard. She never played there in high school so this was her first league game there and she played well.”
Dool led the Quenes with 10 points while Ann Stewart added nine and Gillian Griffin seven. Seymour grabbed 10 rebounds.
Kendell Kuntz had 20 points for SAIT.
The teams meet again this afternoon in Calgary.