The Red River College Rebels upset the University of Winnipeg College Wesmen 89-78 in the MCAC championship game at Providence College to win their third straight conference title in men’s basketball.
The Rebels lost two of their three meetings with the College Wesmen during the 2010-11 season but on the afternoon of Sunday, March 13, they snatched the win when they needed it most.
It was a tight game at the beginning, seeing the teams exchange scoring plays throughout the early stages of the first quarter. The Rebels, however, were able to split the game wide open, taking an 11 point lead to end off the quarter.
At the start of the second, the Rebels quickly expanded their lead to 16 points, their biggest lead of the game. After this, the College Wesmen came to life and charged a spirited comeback against the underdog Rebels. Led by first-year forward Lexy Blacksmith, who ultimately led both teams in points with 23, the College Wesmen came all the way back and eventually took the lead. Despite their efforts, the College Wesmen were not able to hang on come halftime. The Rebels led 46-44.
The score remained close throughout the third quarter but with solid play by first-year guard Chanse Kornick, the Rebels were able to keep their slim lead.
Going into the fourth, the Rebels held the lead at the end of each quarter. The only question that lingered was whether they could do it once more.
The Rebels, just ten minutes away from a third straight MCAC crown, not only held onto their lead but ran away with the game.
Key points by Corey Neufeld and Josh Olaes put the Rebels in cruise control on their way to an 89-78 championship victory.
Rebels head coach Sukh Singh was left speechless after the game but was still able to acknowledge his team’s effort.
“Words can’t express how proud I am of these guys,” said Singh. “They battled through.”
For fifth-year Rebel and 2010-11 regular season co-MVP Josh Olaes, Sunday’s final against the College Wesmen was his last game with Red River.
Olaes was named player of the game for the Rebels and also received Final 4 tournament MVP honours. After the game, Olaes said that the win felt great but ultimately gives credit to his team.
“We controlled the tempo very well and executed when we had to.”
By Sean Angus
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