Kings won’t repeat as men’s basketball champions after losing provincial opener

Red Deer College Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger said heading into the ACAC men’s basketball championships that anything was possible at this tournament. Unfortunately for the Kings, he was right, as the tournament’s two No. 1 seeds were both knocked off by No. 4 seeds on the opening day.

Huskies 83 Kings 79

FORT MCMURRAY — Red Deer College Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger said heading into the ACAC men’s basketball championships that anything was possible at this tournament.

Unfortunately for the Kings, he was right, as the tournament’s two No. 1 seeds were both knocked off by No. 4 seeds on the opening day.

The Kings lost 83-79 to the host Keyano College Huskies while the NAIT Ooks fell 104-97 to the Olds College Broncos.

“I just walked out of our locker room, and there was a great deal of sadness, but also a great deal of resolve as those guys start to reflect on their seasons and their preparation all year long and what more they could have done in order to keep the momentum of this program that we’ve had for the last three years going,” said Pottinger. “It really is for us a time for reflection on that and getting our minds set on getting better for next year so we don’t have this feeling again.”

A tied game through the opening quarter, the Huskies started to stretch out a lead in the second frame, going up 48-38 at the half. Keyano continued to roll into the fourth quarter when they lead by 15 points with 3:31 to go, but RDC fought back, closing the gap to 81-79 with 12.9 seconds to go.

But the Huskies’ Cole Richardson sank two free throws to ice the victory, ending the Kings two-year run as the best team in Alberta.

“What did us in was their dribble penetration, we didn’t do a good job of holding that, mixed with a little hot shooting in their own gym,” said Pottinger.

“When we needed to get stops, we couldn’t. We’re a team that prides ourselves on our ability to defend.”

The Kings were lead by Matthew Matear with 15 points while JP LeBlanc had 14 points, Tyler Wise 13 and Jacob Cusumano 12.

Keyano was led by Christopher Joseph’s game-high 27 points while Lance Wesolowski had 19.

RDC will now play the Concordia Thunder at 3 p.m. today, the best the Kings can do is finish fifth.

The South won the other two match ups with the Lethbridge College Kodiaks beating the Lakeland College Rustlers 79-63 and the Medicine Hat College Rattlers beating the Thunder 84-74.

• Pottinger was named ACAC men’s basketball coach of the year on Thursday for leading the reloaded Kings to a first place finish in the ACAC South with a 19-5 record and the No. 6 ranking in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association.

The Kings also had two players named ACAC South Second Team All-Conference with point guard Matt Johnson and guard Tyler Wise getting the nod.

The Queens basketball team had one player named ACAC South Second Team All-Conference with veteran guard Dedra Janvier getting the honour.

• The RDC Queens dropped the first game of the ACAC women’s hockey best-of-five final in Edmonton against the NAIT Ooks 2-1 on Thursday.

Sherri Bowles and Karli Reeve scored for NAIT while Jill Diachuk made 23 saves for the win.

RDC responded with a lone goal from Rachel Hoppins while Summer Roberts made 26 saves in net.

“We had trouble finding our game throughout the 60 minutes,” said Queens head coach Bob Rutz. “There were spurts when we were really good but at the end of the day we’re going to have to compete at a higher level if we’re going to want to get this done.”

The game was tight through two periods with Hoppins opening the scoring at 17:47 of the middle frame. The Ooks came back and tied it before the period was out with Bowles’ goal at 18:64. NAIT then scored the winning goal 40 seconds into the final period.

Game 2 of the series goes Saturday at 2:45 at the Red Deer Arena. The final three games will go next weekend.

“We knew we were in tough opening up on the road but you deal with the loss, you talk about it, you learn from it, you watch the video and you move on,” said Rutz.

“Tomorrow’s a new day and Saturday’s a new opportunity.”

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