With another MCAC basketball season in the books, it is once again the Red River Rebels who come out on top as MCAC Champions.
For the women, this makes three titles in a row as they dominated Providence in the finals 69-29. When it came to the men, the game was a lot closer, but the dynasty is even more impressive as they complete their sixth consecutive season as MCAC Champions, defeating CMU 78-76.
It was almost a true Cinderella story for Canadian Mennonite University in the men’s game, as Ryan Kehler sent a desperate three pointer into the air seconds before the buzzer sounded to end the contest. But it wasn’t to be on this night, as it sailed heavy, putting an end to the fourth-seed’s incredible run at an MCAC Championship, and putting an end to one incredible basketball game.
For Red River, it was a strong team defense, and some very clutch shooting from Kevin Quirante and Taylor Brown that propelled them to the top in this one. The Blazers were once again led by Ryan Kehler, who provided a spark whenever his team seemed to need one, along with some very impressive three-pointers down the stretch by Player of the Game Ryan Wiebe.
The game started off with Red River dominating down low, led by Cory Neufeld’s ten first-half points, most of which coming in the paint. CMU however, found a way to counter, with some excellent defense late in the second, cutting their deficit from ten to six to end the half.
With the Rebels outplaying CMU in the first half, CMU came out firing in the second, slowly cutting the lead down and getting back into this game. But it wasn’t until the fourth quarter when it really felt like CMU would have a shot.
Tying the game up with seven minutes left in the quarter, CMU started hitting some huge shots in an effort to grab a lead of their own. However, the Rebels showed why they’re the six-time champs, immediately responding time and time again led, in this case with some amazing shooting and speed on the drive by Quirante.
After the two teams traded three-pointers, the Rebels had the lead, but desperately looked to build on it quickly. Answering the bell for Red River was Brown, who hit the shot of the game, nailing a three to make it a two-possession game with less than a minute left.
The Blazers never gave up, and fought back within two after a massive Kehler three. But as CMU threw the ball in with just ten seconds left, the off balance three-pointer couldn’t drop, and the Rebels were once again crowned champions.
On the women’s side, there was certainly no rust on the first-place Red River Rebels after going 14 days without a game in the MCAC. Right from the opening tip it was clear they were ready to play, applying a full-court press that dictated the pace of the game.
The certainly don’t lack offensive talent on their roster, but it was their defense that allowed them to put points on the board, and consequently keep points away from Providence. In the first half it was Brittany Adrian, and Celecia Luckwell who really made things happen for Red River, making up over half of the Rebels first-half points, and doing it mainly off of steals and transition points.
The bright spot for Providence in the first half was the seven points and seven rebounds from Crystal Harms, who found success on both ends of the floor, keeping alive the idea of a comeback in the second half.
The second half, however, was all Red River. Their defense was relentless, holding Providence to only 12 points, while putting up 35 of their own. Again it was Luckwell and Adrian getting it done defensively, while Selamawit Andu found her finish putting up 14 second-half points.
In the end, Providence couldn’t find an answer for the pressure Red River was putting on, and it resulted in a big win to earn their third-straight title, and setting the stage for their men’s team to follow suit.
There were a lot of outstanding players involved in these championships, but a couple stood out amongst the rest. For the women, the Final 4’s MVP went to Brittany Adrian, who was dominant in both sides of the ball during their victory. On the men’s side, it was Red River’s Evan Walker, who was a rock for the Rebels in both games, playing consistently solid basketball whenever he was out on the floor