Labrecque still comfortable coaching Cougars

After a year as head coach of the RDC Kings basketball team, Stefan Labrecque feels comfortable returning as head coach of the Notre Dame Cougars.

After a year as head coach of the RDC Kings basketball team, Stefan Labrecque feels comfortable returning as head coach of the Notre Dame Cougars.

“College was a different environment but a lot of fun,” said Labrecque. “But you don’t realize how hard it is going back and forth. You don’t get the inroads in influencing the guys in terms of academics (at RDC).”

Labrecque was an off-campus coach with the Kings, replacing Craig Behan, who took a year’s sabbatical before officially leaving for good. RDC wanted an on-campus coach and hired Clayton Pottinger this season.

“In high school you’re working with the kids more and with their teachers,” added Labrecque, who has a lot of work ahead of him this season with only three Grade 12s on his 12-player roster.

However, the three — guards Dario Viveros and Jesse Clark and six-foot-three forward Jordan Handel — gives him three of the top players in Central Alberta.

“The three are all all-stars,” said Labrecque. “I had them two years ago in Grade 10 so they know what my expectations are.”

Labrecque feels all three are capable of playing at a higher level.

Viveros is definitely one of the premier guards around while Handel worked out with the Kings much of last season.

“Dario has developed into one of our leaders, but really all three Grade 12s have grown into that role as young men,” said Labrecque.

There are also three Grade 10s on the roster — guards Amet and Akoon Akhon and Jose Vizcarra — along with six Grade 11s.

“All three Grade 10s have a lot of potential, but also a lot of growing to do,” said Labrecque. “We’re a young team, but it’s a good group, who enjoy playing the game. They’re keen and the majority of them are basketball first athletes. They play other sports, but they love basketball, which makes life a lot easier in teaching them.”

The Grade 11s are guard Kieran Pruden and forwards Jongakor Jonkor, Dustin Schaber, Mike Malin, Diego Menjivar and Jayden Partridge.

The Cougars don’t have a lot of height with Jonkor at six-foot-four and Handel, Malin and Menjivar at six-foot-three.

“We don’t have any skyscrapers, but overall our height isn’t bad and they have a good strong base,” said the veteran coach.

The Cougars are off until Jan. 31 when they visit Lindsay Thurber.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com