May 21st, 2024

Kodiaks team up on the Kings

By Dale Woodard on November 16, 2021.

Call it a sports cliche, the Lethbridge College Kodiak men’s basketball team calls it their first win of the season.

The Kodiaks downed the Red Deer Polytechnic Kings 83-74 in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference play Sunday afternoon at the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.

Hosting their home opener and their first home game in nearly two years, the Kodiaks got 23 points from Orin Porter while Paycen Blackmore came in off the bench and poured in another 21 as the Kodiaks salvaged a 1-1 weekend split with the Kings following a 90-83 loss Friday night in Red Deer.

Sunday’s win truly was a team effort.

“I think it was a good rebound from our last game,” said Blackmore, who also hauled in six rebounds, three steals and two assists.

“We made some silly mistakes (Friday) and it was just picking ourselves up and playing as a team. I think everybody played a part. We had lots of subs coming in and it was a good team win.”

They’ll need more of those this season.

“I think it’s going to be pretty key,” said Blackmore. “We’re pretty young this year. We have 10 or 11 first years, so it’s just getting the experience for everybody and seeing what everybody has and throwing it at every team.

“I think it comes back to the team. The home opener helped. Having the crowd in it was key, too. Getting a couple of key stops and getting the crowd fired up.”

The Kodiaks led 38-34 at the half, but not before the Kings went on a run late in the first half to cut that lead to four.

The visitors outscored the Kodiaks 25-22 in the third quarter and while Red Deer briefly took a lead in the fourth quarter, Lethbridge was able to hit a few late buckets to distance themselves and hang on for the win.

“Basketball is such a game of runs and highs and lows and I seem to remember every one of them,” said Kodiaks head coach Ryan Heggie with a chuckle. “Right before half-time they went on a 16-0 run. That’s a big run and I thought we responded well in the third quarter. We did lose the third quarter, but only by two points. They kept the momentum, but we didn’t falter. It was must a game a flow, back and forth. They did take a brief lead, but our guys responded well. They Kodiak’ed up. We’re trying to instill that in them.”

Latest Kodiaks recruit Leon Schenker also came off the bench and hit double digits Sunday with a 12-point outing.

Timothy McMahon had 11 assists, six rebounds and six steals to go along with eight points.

“It took a full 40 minute effort,” said Heggie. “I think coming in we knew it was going to be a 40-minute game because of what we went through with Red Deer (Friday) night. It was a tough, back-and-forth battle right to the two minutes and then they closed us out. But it was basically a total team effort.

“We decided through the last 48 hours that we have good team with good basketball players and we need to start getting more guys in the game and I think all 12 guys got in the game (Sunday) and that’s our system we’re trying to implement because we have good players. They work hard throughout the week and they can contribute, so we’re going to keep going deep into our bench.”

Blackmore enjoyed having a home side crowd behind him.

“It was awesome, it’s been a while, he said. “Just having the adrenaline going and having the crowd there was awesome.”

The Kodiaks shot 53.2 per cent from the field, 31.3 per cent from the three point line and 60 per cent on free throws in Sunday’s win.

Heggie felt those same home court fans will be in for a treat if the rest of the season mirrors what both teams put forth Sunday.

“That was two really good teams going at each other. They could have walked away with the win as we ended up walking away with the win. It was two teams with super athletic players making great plays. It was just great entertainment and I’m glad we’re back and I’m glad the fans are allowed to come enjoy this because we’ve been working hard. We didn’t take the pandemic off. We kept practising. Now the kids get a chance to show their stuff. I’m just glad, it was a good crowd.”

The Kodiaks are in Medicine Hat Friday to take on the Rattlers and return to the Val Matteotti Gymnasium Saturday night for the rematch. The men’s game is at 6 p.m. with the women to follow at 8 p.m.

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