Kings 72 Kodiaks 60
The RDC Kings have enough offence to play with anyone in the Alberta Colleges Men’s Basketball League.
What they’ve shown during their championship years is outstanding defence.
That defence was on display during the second half of their ACAC meeting with the Lethbridge Kodiaks at RDC Friday. The Kings held the Kodiaks, who came in ranked No. 2 in Canada, to 23 second-half points in recording a 72-60 victory.
“Our defence was great the second half, that made all the difference,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger. “Plus we fixed a few things we were doing in the first half that just wasn’t our style of basketball. Then all of a sudden, for whatever reason — possibly it was my excellent halftime speech — they decided they would play.”
The Kings trailed 37-29 at the half and were behind by as much as nine in the third quarter before slowly taking control. They took the lead at 45-44 and never looked back.
The Kings, despite giving up some height, also started to control the boards, especially Benny Bankazo and Tyler Wise.
“Benny grabbed a couple key offensive boards in there and Tyler cleaned up the defensive boards,” said Pottinger.
Bankazo finished with 13 rebounds and Wise 12. Overall, the Kings had 57 rebounds, including 23 on the offensive end, while Lethbridge finished with 30.
The Kings also got an outstanding effort from JP Leblanc, who took over at point guard in the second half with starter Matt Johnson nursing an injury. Leblanc led the Kings with 19 points while grabbing six rebounds before he injured his ankle with five minutes remaining. When Leblanc went down Pottinger was forced to bring Johnson back in and he came in cold to hit two free throws and finished the game with 11 points.
The Kings are playing short-handed as it is and as a result dressed Joel Carroll for the first time this season.
“We’re a bit banged up, which makes it even more impressive when you’re going that deep on the bench and getting contributions from guys willing to play,” said Pottinger, who was pleased to see the team win the first of the two-game weekend series. The teams meet again today, following the women’s contest, which tips off at 1 p.m.
“Every weekend we lost the first game, similar to our first half today and then battled to come back,” said Pottinger. “We as coaches, and players, need to address that. We have to throw the first punch and dominate the game from beginning to end rather than playing catch up.”
Wise was the RDC player of the game, adding 17 points and two assists to his rebounds while Bankazo also had 11 points. Will Hickey led the Kodiaks with 16 points while Dalton Spencer added 12.
Kodiaks 92 Queens 22
The Kodiaks came in with experience, a deep bench, height and ranked No. 3 in Canada. The Queens have two returnees and four players with college experience.
The difference, especially in the first half when the Kodiaks used their full court press, was more than evident as they rolled to a 92-22 victory.
“We worked all week on the press, but we just made fundamental mistakes that we can’t make,” said Queens head coach Ken King.
The Queens’ lack of experience showed, especially in the turnover department as they coughed up the ball 43 times, including 29 in the first half. Lethbridge had 14 turnovers.
“We need someone who wants the ball, to be strong with the ball, and do it on a consistent basis,” said King. “We’ve seen players do great things this season and then the next week are not the same.
“As well, a large part of today was coming in and believing we can win,” King added. “The coaches believe and some of the girls believe but we have to get every player to believe. If we have that we’ll be more competitive early. But that’s definitely an experience thing.”
The Queens trailed 22-0 before getting on the board and were down 29-6 after 10 minutes. They failed to score in the second quarter and were behind 56-6 at the half. To the Kodiaks credit they took the press off late in the second quarter and for the entire second half.
Ann Stewart was named the Queens player of the game; although she had only two points she worked hard inside and had seven boards. Morgan Dool had seven points and five rebounds.
Fifth-year guard Ali Cameron had 27 points and four assists for the Kodiaks while Jordyn Kirk added 17 points and Emma Lowry 15.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog