Tia Ruddock Named Week 17 Athlete of the Week

Despite taking the #2 seed into the upcoming Final 4 Basketball Championships, the Red River Rebel women have put some questions into the minds of those who look at the top-ranked University of Winnipeg College Wesmen as the true favourite to grab the conference title this year.
Second-year guard Tia Ruddock was beyond impressive in helping the surging Rebels knock off the College Wesmen twice in the final two regular season matchups of the year between the MCAC’s top women’s teams.
In the first of the two matchups in less than two days, the Rebels found their tenth win of the season (63-46) on a career day statistically for Ruddock. The Grant Park High School product played a full 40 minutes amassing 24 points, 5 rebounds, and going 4/7 from beyond the arc. She committed only 2 turnovers, despite being the Rebels’ primary ball carrier.
The defeat was the first of the season for the College Wesmen.
In the second matchup the following Saturday afternoon, a convincing 69-41 Rebel win, Ruddock put up 18 points in 37 minutes. She added 8 rebounds and 3 steals.

Following Saturday’s win Ruddock spoke on how the Rebels will take their momentum into the playoffs, and how they will approach a possible showdown between the two teams for the 2011 conference title.

“It’s a huge thing, to keep the intensity and to keep pushing each other as teammates,” said the 19-year-old Chemical and Biosciences Technology student. “It’s not only on the court. It’s off the court too. Pushing each other to go hard in practice. Team talk is important for us.”

The Rebels finished their regular season 13-3, and will square off against the #3 seeded Canadian Mennonite University Blazers in the first round of the playoffs.

The 2011 MCAC Final 4 Basketball Championships will be hosted by Providence College March 11 and 12 in Otterburne, MB.

By Darrin Bauming

Given Isaac Named Week 17 Athlete of the Week

The University of Winnipeg College Wesmen and Red River Rebels met twice in week 17, and gave basketball fans a preview of what is likely to be the MCAC men’s conference championship matchup.

The Rebels found overtime victory in a thrilling 72-70 Thursday nighter, but the Saturday matinee was a different story as the Wesmen trounced Red River 85-64 on the back of freshman Given Isaac’s game-high 20 points.

The 6’0” guard came off the bench Saturday afternoon and lit up the scoresheet, driving the lane repeatedly and going 8/9 from the line.

“Coach talked to me and told me to have the mentality to be more of a scorer,” said the Sudanese born 18-year-old who attended high school at the University of Winnipeg Collegiate. “Usually I’m more of a penetrate and pitch type of guy, but he told me to be a scorer.”

Saturday’s convincing win proved to be a statement for the College Wesmen following their first defeat of the season Thursday night.

“We were really motivated today,” said Isaac. “That was the first loss we took this season. We got really aggravated and played as hard as we can and came out with the win. We wanted that number one spot.”

The College Wesmen will take that #1 seed into the playoffs, but it is far from a done deal. The Rebels are playoff proven with experienced coaching and a handful of veterans looking for their third-consecutive conference title.

“We won’t be confident until we are champions of the MCAC,” said Wesmen head coach Grant Richter. “We know they’re a more experienced team then us. We have a bunch of first year guys. They have some guys who’ve been around like Josh Olaes, a fifth-year guy. They’re going to be ready for us if we see them in the playoffs.”

The 2011 MCAC Final 4 Basketball Championships will be hosted by Providence College March 11 and 12 in Otterburne, MB.

By Darrin Bauming

CMU Volleyball on Sports Radio 1290

Canadian Mennonite University’s standout women’s volleyball player Clare Schellenberg was recently featured on Winnipeg’s Sports Radio 1290 on Tuesday, March 1 at 7 p.m.
Schellenberg was a featured guest, along with Blazer head coach Andrea Charbonneau, on “On The Sidelines” – a talk show focusing on sports injuries. Schellenberg and Charbonneau discussed the freshman’s season ending knee injury and the Blazers’ journey this year to win a third-consecutive MCAC women’s volleyball title.
“On The Sidelines” is a one-hour talk show hosted by Dr. Richard Tapper and Winnipeg Blue Bomber quarterback Buck Pierce.

Neufeld Named Week 16 Athlete of the Week

As the Red River Rebels begin to gear up for a playoff run – trying to capture a third consecutive men’s basketball conference title – they are finding that utilizing their size and scoring down low is leading to team success.
Cory Neufeld, a 6’6” second-year post has taken the consistency in his game to another level since the holiday break. In their 81-54 dominance of the Blazers on February 6, Neufeld took control of the boards on both ends, added 11 points, and shut down CMU’s big man Wyatt Anders. He held the 6’7” freshman to 7 first-half points, and scoreless in the second.
“We did a really good job against Anders who was coming off 47 (points) and 21 (rebounds),” said head coach Sukh Singh, who spoke in near amazement of Anders’ eye-opening performance in the Blazers’ previous game against the Oak Hills Wolf Pack.
“Our big men were going to work,” said Neufeld. “Anytime we have a mismatch, we have to get them in the block. That’s what makes us successful – getting the ball down low. (CMU) doesn’t like to play a full front, like say U of W does. That benefits us… because our wings can pass the ball to our big guys. (Against CMU) we never had an issue getting it inside.”
Singh sees a difference in Neufeld and the Rebels, especially since losing their leading rebounder and scorer in Ryan Purdy for the season’s second half due to academic reasons.
“(Neufeld has) been playing a lot better for us,” said Singh of the 23-year-old River East Collegiate grad. “Without Ryan (Purdy), he really needs to impose his will and presence in the paint.”
Singh emphasized the importance of getting good performances from his big men.

“If we can dominate the paint, we’ll win. Beyond a few bigs, there isn’t a lot of size in the conference.”

Barring two huge upsets of the #1 ranked University of Winnipeg College Wesmen this weekend, the defending champion Rebels will take the #2 seed into the 2011 MCAC Final 4 Basketball Championships (March 11 & 12) and face a familiar foe in the tournament’s opening round at Providence College – last year’s conference finalists, the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers.

By Darrin Bauming

Ryshytylo Named Week 16 Athlete of the Week

It is quite possibly the biggest upset so far this MCAC women’s volleyball season.
Just 48 hours earlier the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers took a convincing three-straight sets at home over third-placed Providence College, and continued their perfect 11-0 campaign. But on February 4, when they travelled to Otterburne to finish the home-and-home series with the Freemen, it was a different story in front of the Providence fans – and Victoria Ryshytylo was a huge reason why.

After dropping the first two sets 19-25 and 21-25, it looked like the same old story for the Freemen against the defending conference champions. But then the huge comeback began, with the Freemen squeaking out wins in the third and fourth sets (25-23, 25-23), as well as in the barnburner fifth 21-19, taking the match 3 sets to 2.
It was the first time CMU had lost a single set since the season’s first week back on October 20, 2010 on the same Providence court.
“Our defence helped us a lot,” said Ryshytylo, a 6’0” third-year middle. “They have a couple really good, strong hitters, and just being able to dig them and getting some solid blocks to stop them helped us.”

Ryshytylo, who was part of three AAAA high school provincial championship teams at Lord Selkirk from 2005-06 through 2007-08, made several timely kills in the upset. She attributes teammate Christa Penner as to why she was able to be so effective in the win.

“The connection with my setter. We were really clicking and the sets were just right on. I was able to put the ball where I wanted it and move it around.”

The Freemen will now take the #3 seed into the 2011 Final 4 Volleyball Championships at Red River College on March 4 and 5. In the Friday semifinal at 6:00 p.m. they will meet the #2 ranked tournament hosts, whom they split their season series with 2-2.

By Darrin Bauming

Photos by Brenda Peters