The RDC Kings got a little stronger this week.
All-star forward Rob Pierce made his season debut Friday and while he showed the signs of being away for the first five months of the season, his ability was still evident as the Kings rolled to a 98-73 victory over the Concordia University College of Alberta Thunder at RDC.
“I feel a little rusty and a bit older, I’m not a young guy anymore,” he said with a smile. “The team doesn’t really need me, I’m like their big brother, a voice, and if they need me to come in a get a few points and a few rebounds I’ll be there, but I’m more in the back ground than before.”
Still he finished with six points and four rebounds.
“This is a great team, better than we had in the past, and we’ll only get better and better,” added Pierce, who was in the trades program and away for the first semester.
Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger sees Pierce getting better and better himself.
“You could see he was a little rusty, but you have seen what he can do over the past two years and as the second half wears on his performance will keep improving and the opposition will have a rough night.”
The Kings expected a rough night of their own against the Thunder, but jumped out into a 34-9 lead in the first quarter.
“A great first quarter, but after that it was blow for blow and it was even the rest of the way,” said Pottinger.
“When you have that kind of first quarter you have a tendency to put it on cruise control a bit, but we can’t be doing that. We have continue to work as a team all the time, no matter the score.”
What Pottinger did do was use his full bench, giving everyone significant minutes as the 12-1 Kings have a tough test today as they visit the Grant MacEwan University Griffins.
“We wanted to make sure we spread the minuets out, but there are no excuses for the way we played after the first quarter. If you get on the court for the RDC Kings you have to perform, you have to execute and you have to play defence.”
Clay Crellin led the Kings with 22 points, two rebounds and four assists while Jacob Cusumano added 14 points and Sam Lolik and Lloyd Strickland 10 each. Taner Parrington came in off the bench and had seven points and seven rebounds.
“Taner was excellent but because of foul trouble we couldn’t use him and Sam as much as we would have liked,” said Pottinger, who also got another solid effort out of Dallas Hancox, who had six points and three boards in limited minutes.
Jamaal Bucknor had 16 points, Rob Haack 14 and David Shantz 12 for the Thunder.
Thunder 69 Queens 40
The Queens were their own worst enemies as they shot a dismal 23.5 per cent from the field and were zero for 11 from three point line.
“It came down to getting the ball inside and scoring and we got the ball inside enough, but as the statistics showed we missed a lot of bunnies,” said Queens head coach Mike Woollard.
The Queens looked good 3arly on as they jumped into a 6-4 lead, but by the time the first quarter was over they trailed 21-7.
“We came out and executed, then we make a couple of changes (on the floor) and they go out on a run. I call time out and we let them go on another run. And when we did get shots they weren’t pretty.”
What hurt more than anything was the inside shooting as their top two scores — Desirae Paterson and Mozanga Ekwalanga — couldn’t buy a basket. Ekwalanga was good on one of 12 and Paterson one of 10.
“It hurt as the kids shooting 60 per cent were one for 12,” added Woollard shaking his head. “We also had open looks on at least nine of the 11 three-pointers and they were by girls we expect to hit some of those, but it was one of those nights.”
The loss was a major blow in the Queens chances of making the playoffs.
“This team is one of the teams we had to beat, but now they jumped up in the standings on us. It put us in a spot where we need to upset someone and make sure we get on a winning streak of our own.”
The Thunder sit at 5-7 with RDC at 5-8.
Sarah Williamson led the Queens with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three assists while Carly Hoar had seven points and five boards. Karolina Wieczorek had 23 points and Aly Bridgeman 20 for the Thunder.