The RDC Kings had to fight down to the wire to earn a spot in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship.
It came down to the Kings win in the second last game of the regular season, a victory on the road against the St. Mary’s University Lightning. That win gave RDC a 3-0 advantage in the season series and clinched the final playoff spot in the ACAC South for the Kings.
“It’s exciting to get into that fourth and final spot in the south. There were two other teams competing tooth and nail right until the end for that fourth spot, Briercrest and St. Mary’s,” said Kings Head Coach Darren Graham in a press release.
“We were fortunate enough to get in, just because of the tie-breaker.”
While a playoff berth is nice, it earned the Kings an extremely difficult matchup to open the Championship Thursday in Camrose.
RDC will square off against the Keyano College Huskies of Fort McMurray, who were first in the ACAC North with a 22-2 record.
RDC played Keyano twice in the first week of January ahead of the second half of the regular season and lost 102-82 and 100-69 to the Huskies.
“They are a very good team. They have six really good players and have been ranked nationally for the majority of the year,” said Graham.
The Huskies are led by forward Noah Simpson, listed at six-foot-eight. He averaged 15 points, 9.5 rebounds and a field-goal efficiency of 56.4 per cent.
Stefan Jovcic is one of the big Keyano weapons offensively, with 16.3 points per game. After Simpson (15), Angelo Mbituyimana is next with 13.6. Dejon Davis and Jo Michel averaged 13 points each.
“They have good shooters and definitely some athletic players that can run the floor well,” added the RDC Kings head coach.
RDC is no slouch offensively, with both Spencer Klassen and Tyronn King finishing the regular season in the top 10. Klassen, a fifth-year guard from Red Deer had 21.6 points-per-game, good for third in the ACAC. He also became the Kings all-time leading scoring earlier this season.
King, a fourth-year-guard out of Toronto averaged 34.4 minutes a game and scored 18.8 points per game. Both King and Klassen shot 30.5 per cent from three-point range on the year.
Graham said after a few practices this week, the Kings will be dialed in and ready to go for Thursday.
“We will work hard to fine-tune that ball movement in terms of our offensive play, making sure we get high percentage shots, and that we’re efficient with our possessions on offence,” he said.
“I trust that our guys will bring the right defensive effort against Keyano.”
Last season, the Kings were ousted in the opening round of the ACAC Championships with a loss to the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings.
RDC will take on the Huskies at 3 p.m. at University of Alberta-Augustana in Camrose Thursday. The game can be live-streamed at www.acactv.ca.