As far as depth and experience is concerned the Medicine Hat Rattlers don’t match up with the RDC Kings.
In the end those two ingredients played major roles in the Kings 100-80 victory over the Rattlers in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League quarter-final before a full house at RDC Friday.
“That’s a difference between a young team and an older, experienced team,” said Rattlers head coach Craig Price. “Credit to Red Deer they cranked it up a couple of notches when they needed to in the second half. They were running their cuts hard and deserved to win and will be a force moving forward.”
The Kings had their hands full with the Rattlers for much of the first three quarters, managing a 75-66 lead heading into the final 10 minutes. However, their strong play on the boards and ability to get to the basket on offence allowed them to pull away in the end.
“They gave us a battle,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger. “We certainly didn’t take them lightly, they’re a good team and have one of the best scorers in the league and possibly one of the best in the nation (in Antonio Holmes). They’re a scrappy bunch of guys, who work hard, but ultimately we have a little bit more depth and experience,
“And as you could see when they made it close a couple of times we were able to keep our composure.”
The Kings led by 16 at one point in the second quarter, but a late rally, led by rookie point guard Brandon Karl brought the Rattlers back to within six (47-41) at the half.
“We were losing the rebounding battle at the half and that’s something we adjusted at the break,” said Pottinger, who got a strong effort from Sam Lolik, Rob Pierce and Brian Prenoslo on the boards in the second half.
“Sam and Rob really stepped it up and there are few guys in the nation who can handle Sam and we were able to exploit that,” added Pottinger, who got 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists from Pierce and 20 points and seven rebounds from Lolik. Prenoslo added six rebounds.
“Rebounding hurt us in the second half, plus we couldn’t guard the ball,” said Price. “It never feels good at the end of the game, but you have to deserve to win and have to do things better if you want to win.”
Mari Peoples-Wong came off the bench and turned in an outstanding second half for the Kings, finishing with 16 points and was tough on defence, especially against Holmes, who had 15 of his 25 points in the first half.
“Those were the best minutes Mari has played all season, hands down both on offence and defence,” said Pottinger.
“He came around when we needed him and we were clicking on all cylinders.”
The Kings also were without first-team All-Conference player Clay Crellin, who will return tonight when the Kings face the NAIT Ooks at 8 p.m. The Ooks advanced with an 85-63 victory over the Keyano Huskies.
“Clay is just another piece in the puzzle and we want to have him in there as the games don’t get any easier,” said Pottinger.
The Rattlers, who are one of the younger teams in the eight-team tournament, face Keyano at 3 p.m. today in the consolation semifinal.
Lloyd Strickland added 16 points and Matt Johnson eight for the Kings while Karl had 16 points and five assists and Ryan Cunningham 14 points for the Rattlers.
The other semifinal sees the Lethbridge Kodiaks clashing with the Concordia Thunder. The Kodiaks defeated the Briercrest Bible College Clippers 82-61, thanks to a 25-7 fourth quarter, while Concordia got a three-point basket with less than three seconds remaining to edge the Grant MacEwan Griffins 72-71.
MacEwan and the Clippers meet at 1 p.m.
Chris Maughan led Lethbridge with 23 points while Travis Butt hit 14. James Wohlgeschaffen had 17 points and Ryan Fox 14 for BBC.
Dallas Wright had 28 points and David Shantz 24 for Concordia with Denzel Williamson-James hitting 24 and Thomas Jereniuk 16 for GMU.
• In the women’s championship in Olds, the host Broncos lost 87-55 to Grant MacEwan. Carmen Deal had 24 points and April Freeney 16 for Olds.
MacEwan faces Lethbridge in the semifinals today after Lethbridge downed Grande Prairie 90-57.
The other semifinal sees Augustana taking on NAIT. Augustana downed SAIT 71-66 and NAIT stopped Lakelend 73-66.
• In other women’s news two members of the RDC Queens — Mozanga Ekwalanga and Jessica Foley — were named to the South’s second All-Conference team at Thursday’s ACAC championship banquet.