Brent Forster - RDC
Thursday afternoon, the third seed from the south, the RDC Kings (14-7), faced the second place team from the north, the NAIT Ooks (16-8), in the opening game at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Men's Basketball Championship and after trailing at the half the Kings tried to battle back but couldn't complete the comeback. NAIT eventually won 106-99.
In a back-and-forth first quarter at Lethbridge College, NAIT took an early lead but RDC kept it close. The Kings found themselves at the free-throw line several times by driving the net. All-Conference selection, Dshawn Tyrell hit a pair of free-throws late to pull the Kings within a point (17-16) at the end of the quarter. The Ooks, and in particular Brady MacKay, started to connect from long distance in the second quarter to build on their lead. MacKay hit 3 out of 4 shots from behind the three-point arch including a pair of really deep balls. Eric Bakker had a strong quarter for the RDC Kings and drained 4 out of 5 shots from the field for 8 points. At the half, the NAIT Ooks led 50-40. Over two quarters, Eric Bakker, a Business Administration student, contributed 13 points, 1 block and 3 assists. MacKay had 17 points for the Ooks.
The RDC Kings had their best offensive showing in the third quarter. The Kings outscored the Ooks 30-25. Spencer Klassen led the charge for RDC with 8 points. The South Rookie of the Year and First All-Conference team selection, Omon Edobar, accumulated 7 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds for RDC in the quarter. Ryan Dwelo totaled 7 points for NAIT. The fourth quarter was very tight. The RDC Kings had to take a few more offensive chances in an attempt to climb back on even terms. There were several swings in momentum but the Ooks held a 2 point margin (31-29) in the quarter and eventually picked up a 106-99 win. Spencer Klassen led the way once again for RDC with 10 points. Jackson Jacob recorded 14 points for NAIT.
Spencer Klassen, a third-year guard from Red Deer, was one of the heart-and-soul players for the RDC Kings. His strong work ethic was rewarded with a team high 25 points. Jackson Jacob finished with 34 points for NAIT and was chosen as their player-of-the-game.
Kings Basketball Head Coach Clayton Pottinger didn't like the start but saw some ability to battle late. "We started slow and were down 10 points at the half, and then we closed within 5 points after three quarters," said Pottinger." In the fourth quarter, we had to take more chances and open it up. Overall, we didn't show what we are capable of today."
Pottinger was proud of the efforts of two student-athletes in particular. "Spencer Klassen and Eric Baker had good games. They both showed up ready to play and were leaders," said Pottinger. "Klassen had 25 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 1 steal. Bakker contributed 23 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, and was named the player-of-the-game."
The Kings will look to bounce back on Friday and Pottinger feels like the RDC Kings can elevate their game. "We are looking for a better performance tomorrow and want to show what we are capable of," said Pottinger.
The Kings were stronger on the boards and had 6 more rebounds than the Ooks (38-32). The RDC Kings shot 51.3% from the field. The NAIT Ooks were successful on 50.7% of their field goals.
The RDC Kings will compete against the Keyano College Huskies, Friday at 1:00 p.m. The Huskies were narrowly defeated 82-81 by the SAIT Trojans in overtime.