A tough weekend has come to pass for the Red Deer College Kings basketball team as they journeyed to the north to take on the best of Alberta’s collegiate teams at the ACAC championships.
The Kings, having landed themselves a cushy first place title in the southern division, travelled to Fort McMurray’s Keyano College in hopes of bringing home a third provincial championship.
Unfortunately the team was upset in the first round of the prestigious tournament after facing the Huskies on their home court who were ranked fourth in the north.
“It was a little disappointing to lose that first game,” said Kings Coach Clay Pottinger. “They were the host team – it was packed and they kind of fed off the energy of the crowd.
“But as a team we’ve been in that position before and if we were to play that game 10 times we would beat Keyano nine out of 10 times, so I guess this was just that one in 10 chance.”
This first round loss for the Kings wasn’t the only wild upset of the ACAC championship as similarly the NAIT Ooks, ranked first in the north were also upset by their fourth place counterparts – the Olds Broncos.
“There was a common belief that the south division was stronger than the north division and in the previous game that was validated when our number four seat – Olds, knocked off NAIT who was the top team in the entire province,” said Pottinger. “So the game against Keyano should’ve been a shoe in – perhaps that was the mentality some of our guys had going into it and thought it was going to be relatively easy.
“So when things didn’t start going well for us we just had a hard time bringing it back around to where it should’ve been.”
The Kings encountered an early lag with a 15-point deficit against the Huskies and were able to close it to a two point follow but according to Pottinger they ran out of time after having dug themselves too deep of a hole.
Next up the Kings faced Concordia College, who were ranked second in the north.
“It was nice to get back in the win category but it was a hard game for us to get motivated for after our loss against Keyano the night before,” he said. “We had high hopes of defending our provincial championship – going for that three-peat, then hoping to head off to the nationals.
“So in that 24 hour turnaround it took a lot from a coaching perspective to get the guys up before the game.”
The Kings crushed their Concordian rivals, which left them in a match up against the NAIT Ooks which many had predicted would have been the gold medal game.
“I think at that point both teams were playing for pride and for bragging rights,” said Pottinger. “As we had been on a collision course all year long and were really anticipating a match up at some point – we just didn’t expect that match up to be for the fifth/sixth place.”
The Kings were able to take down the Ooks in an 87-79 victory, which left them with a fifth place title. Lethbridge took home the gold medal with Medicine Hat taking silver, and Olds taking bronze.
Pottinger added that in an ironic twist, these three teams all finished behind the Kings in the southern division in the same order.
He added he hopes the upset will be a learning experience for his team, as many of his first and second year players have never known the bitter taste of defeat like they faced at the hands of the Huskies in the first round.
“Hopefully it will galvanize the returning players and help them understand the full importance of playing well down the stretch,” said Pottinger. “It’s part of the process with new players and it’s a necessary one to make it back to that national championship playing level that we are capable of.”
The Kings weren’t the only RDC basketball season to face a tough loss in the 2014/2015 season as the RDC Queens struggled throughout the season to find their identity as a team.
Unfortunately the Kings female counterparts did not make it to their ACAC playoff championships – but Coach Ken King said to expect them to make an appearance next year.
The end of the season marked King’s first with the Queens to which he recaps by saying it was a struggle to coach a team he had not himself recruited and vice versa for a team to undergo a coaching change.
King stated his team is currently in the rebuilding stages to which he is greatly looking forward to.
“We focused largely this year on ensuring our first year players got a lot of playing time in order to get them up to the level we need them to be at which is going to be huge for us next year,” said King. “We’ll be going into next year with a lot of second year players who averaged over 15 minutes of playing time in their first season which is not something too many people in the ACAC can say.”
King stated he hasn’t waited until the season’s end to begin recruiting and instead has been working all season to get his 2015/2016 team set in stone.
One recruit King said he believes will be a welcomed asset for the Queens is 18-year-old Eva Bonde of Denmark who will be joining the Queens in July fresh off the Danish National Team where she made appearances as the starting point guard for the team.
King said she will, “be a huge addition to the team.”
The two teams will start up again in September both with their eyes on both provincial and national championships.