With their playoff hopes quickly fading, the RDC Kings had their best performance of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season.
They pushed the number one collegiate team in Canada to the brink on Friday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, but fell just short late.
SAIT Trojans guard John Smith hit an absolute dagger with three seconds left in the game. With time running out and the game tied, Smith faded away from Spencer Klassen and hit a three-pointer to put the Trojans ahead 102-99.
That advantage was also their first of the contest and the Kings weren’t able to muster a shot to tie the game on the final possession.
“I thought we played well. We executed our game plan,” said Kings coach Clayton Pottinger.
“As a coach, you look at a bunch of stuff you want to do better and you think you could have done better. We really executed the game plan and competed like we expect out of our team on a regular basis.”
Smith hit five threes in the game, two of which came in the final minute. Former King Ian Tevis had 29 points and five rebounds for the undefeated Trojans.
For the Kings, who lead 77-68 after three quarters and even held a 99-96 lead with under a minute to play, the close call was a sign they haven’t given up on the season. RDC is 5-6 on the year.
“It shows their desire to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Our backs are against the wall and these guys really don’t want their season to end early and that was part of their impetus for playing well,” Pottinger said.
“I don’t think you’ve seen us play our best basketball this year yet. The guys know that and they know time is running out. They want to at least show that they are capable.”
Klassen, the ACAC leading scorer had another monster night with a game-high 32 points and eight rebounds. Off the bench, Ramiro Martinez Quintanilla Jimenez was the player of the game for RDC with 15 points.
“I loved his toughness and his rebounding. Ramiro was out for most of the first half with an injury. That’s maybe his third game and the most minutes he was able to get. He’s still trying to find his groove in many regards, but I think once we get him going… we are going to be pretty dangerous.”
The Kings also added guard Barzin Eskandarkhah to the roster and he played his first game of the year Friday. He had two points in 18 minutes of play.
They travel to Calgary on Saturday night to finish the home-and-home with SAIT.