June 14th, 2024

Kodiaks basketball ready for league championships

By Lethbridge Herald on March 1, 2023.

Herald photo by JUSTIN SEWARD The Lethbridge College Kodiaks men’s basketball team shoot around the ball before boarding the bus to Calgary for the ACAC Men’s Basketball Championship on Tuesday.

By Justin Seward

Lethbridge Herald

Lethbridge College Kodiaks basketball teams begin their respective Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Championships today in hopes of winning the gold medal by Saturday.

The men’s team finished first in the South Division with a 16-5 record and open up with their quarter-final match against NorthWest Polytechnic in Calgary at Ambrose University at 3 p.m.

Although the team lost their last two regular season games a couple weeks ago up north, including an 82-75 loss to No. 1 team in the country in the Keyano Huskies , they are using that as motivation heading into this weekend.

“Well I mean as much as that was a letdown that weekend (and) to take away positives from that, we played the No. 1 team in the country in Keyano — they’re undefeated,” said fifth year forward Kodiak Chris Thomson.

“And we had an eight-point lead late in the game with like two or three minutes left, and we let that slip away. But I think we proved to ourselves that if they’re the best team in the country and we can play with them, that we can play with anybody. We would’ve liked a different result but I think that gives us a lot of confidence going into this weekend.”

Thomson thinks it’s more mental preparation than anything.

“It’s about getting locked in and just  kind of visualizing success and believing that we can do it, you know,” he said.

While Thomson joined the Kodiaks in second semester, he still managed to attend games of some of the other teams at the tournament.

“There’s nobody in particular that we think, ‘Oh, we’re going to struggle with those guys,’” said Thomson.

“I think we can match-up against anybody. SAIT is definitely a team that we always have tough battles with. They’re on the other side of the bracket. We’re likely going to see either St. Mary’s or Lakeland second round and those are all tough teams. But I mean we have to get past NWP and watching them on film, there just a team that we have to show respect for — anybody we play, we have to show respect for. Yeah, we’re the first seed, but last time we played we lost first round to a fourth seed. Like I have enough experience to know you can’t overlook anybody in playoffs because anything can happen.”

Chris Schlauwitz said spirits are high.

“We’re excited,” said Schlauwitz.

“You know, March is playoff basketball in all areas of basketball almost, and so we’re very excited to be here and very blessed to able to get into the tournament this year again.”

The team is in the reset mentality going in.

“Right now we kind of broke it back down into back to the beginning, really,” said Schlauwitz.

“Like we have won anything yet and it’s kind of like a whole reset. So going into playoffs here in this eight-team tournament, we’ve got our backs against the wall and it’s just win every game right.”

This isn’t coach Ryan  Heggie’s first go around at the ACAC Championship.

“All you can do is prepare your team the best to their ability,” said Heggie.

“And the coaches, we just need to prepare the best we can and trust each other. The team’s got to trust us and we got to trust the team, and we’ve done enough all year to prepare these boys. Now it’s up to just execution and sometimes it’s up to starting on time too, like getting a good start out of the gates. If the game starts at 3 p.m., we’ve got to start at 3 p.m., not 3:10 p.m.”

Meanwhile, the Kodiaks women’s basketball team will host seven other teams Thursday through Saturday for the ACAC Women’s basketball championship.

The team is ranked third heading into the championship as the third seed and will tip-off their quarter-final match with University of Alberta Augustana- Vikings tonight at 8 p.m. at Val Matteotti Gym.

Spectators should watch for Kitawna Sparks who has been averaging 18 points and nine rebounds per game, Courtney Deemter who is averaging 12.5 points  and three steals per game and Tylee Leavitt with 12 points and including four assists per game.

“We’ve got a young squad and the learning curve is steep, but as coaches, we are so happy with the progress the team has made,” says Head Coach Ken McMurray. “Our defense has been great as of late, with deflections and steals that have led to several open court fast break opportunities, and when combined with our strong bench play, the Kodiaks will be a tough out. We’re also excited to host and have the home crowd as our ‘sixth man’ advantage.” 

“It’s an incredible opportunity for the college to be able to host an event of this magnitude to not only highlight the sport of women’s basketball in our community, but also the college itself,” says Todd Caughlin, manager, Kodiaks Athletics and Recreation Services. “The goal in hosting a championship is to provide the best possible student-athlete and fan experience, and this only happens when you have a sponsor like Fox Drilling commit to it. We are very thankful for their support and the support of the Kodiaks Association.”

The quarter-final winners will go to semi-finals, while the losers will go through the consolation bracket in hopes of landing a spot in the fifth place game.

The Championships run from March 2-4.

Schedules, scores and livestream can be found at http://www.acac.ab.ca under the Championships tab.

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