Kings 76 Kodiaks 67
The Red Deer College Kings (6-2) are hoping the team that showed up this weekend was the team they will see for the rest of the year.
Especially in Saturday’s 76-67 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s basketball win over the Lethbridge College Kodiaks (6-2) — who were undefeated heading into the weekend — they looked calm and confident in hanging on to a late lead.
It is something that to this point in the season has been a challenge, twice blowing leads in the final period to cost them games.
“That’s something we have been working on,” said Kings head coach Clayton Pottinger. “We get panicky and we shoot quick shots rather than sticking to our guns. We were expecting them to make a run, we knew they weren’t going to lay down and die. It’s how we weather the storm and I think we did a better job of that today than we probably have in any of our previous games.”
RDC led by as many as 18 points midway through the third quarter, but the Kodiaks came back in the fourth, cutting the difference to five points. However, the Kings slowed the pace and started working the shot clock to its full length and hit on key baskets down the stretch to put the game away.
Key in that final 10 minutes was the play of third year point guard Matt Johnson whose speed and tenacity on the defensive end of the floor kept the Kodiaks off balance all night. He also hit a few big shots in the final minutes to help clinch the game, finishing with a team-high 18 points.
“He’s a captain, he’s one of our leaders, he’s one of those guys we’re going to rely on all year long,” said Pottinger.
Tyler Wise finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for the Kings while JP Leblanc had 12 points and Brian Prenoslo had 10.
Chaz Johnson led Lethbridge with 20 points while Christopher Maugham had 18 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Dathon Spencer also chipped in with 15 points.
There are still areas of the Kings’ game Pottinger would like to see cleaned up at both ends of the floor, a lot of it coming down to communication and knowing where they need to be.
These improvements will be critical as their season continues to crank on, despite finishing up the first semester with the two last place teams in the league — home-and-home with St. Mary’s University Lions (1-9) this weekend and then at Caronport, Sask., to play the Briercrest Clippers (1-9) the following weekend.
“This year I think there’s a lot of parity in the South so we get almost a playoff like situation every weekend,” said Pottinger. “It’s going to be a war down the stretch as we get better and as these other teams get better as well.”
Kodiaks 77 Queens 35
It was another rough game for the RDC Queens (0-8) as the Lethbridge Kodiaks (8-0) crushed them 77-35 on Saturday.
It wasn’t as bad as Friday’s 92-22 loss, but it was still a stark reminder of how far away they are from truly competing with the top teams in the ACAC.
“You see the attitude and what it takes to win on another team,” said head coach Ken King. “Lethbridge, you can never discredit them, they were in a similar position to where we are just two years ago or three years ago. Talking to (Kodiaks head coach) Brad (Kerran) they’ve had to work hard to get to where they are now. It’s not like we’re looking at a seven-year window, they’re a perfect example of where we can be in two or three years if we work hard.”
The Queens were led by freshman forward Ann Stewart who had nine points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, while point guard Megan Dool had eight points.
Fifth-year senior Ali Cameron led Lethbridge with 32 points while Sunder West added 14 off the bench.
The gap in experience between the two clubs was cavernous. Three of the Kodiaks starting five players are in their fifth year, the other two in their third year. The Queens, meanwhile have two starters in their third year while the other three are all right out of high school.
Anytime the Kodiaks felt the Queens start to get a little too much confidence they just found a new level.
RDC did their best to hang in defensively, trailing 15-7 after the first quarter, but Lethbridge stretched the score to 38-19 at the half. The Queens came out in the second half playing well, only getting outscored 17-12 in the third quarter, but ran out of gas in the fourth as they were out scored 22-4 in the frame.
“I don’t even know if it was so much physical fatigue as it was mental fatigue,” said King. “It’s hard to play down that much for eight quarters.”