Head coach: Scott Kirkpatrick, 4th season
Keys for the Rebels:
Key Additions: Josh Charr (Forward), Garnet McLeod (Forward), Marco Valera (Guard)
Key Returnee: Mark Ridd (Forward), Steve Williamson (Guard), Mitch Podworny (Forward), Aaron Backe (Forward)
Key Losses: Chris Demauleon-Bartolay
Season Preview/Profile: The Red River Rebels men’s basketball team started their defense of their Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) with a split on opening weekend, with a win Saturday and loss on Sunday on the road against the Association Free Lutheran Bible School Conquerors during the first weekend of the 2018-19 MCAC/NIAC (Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) season on Nov. 3-4.
The Rebels have won the MCAC championships twice in the last four seasons (2016, ’18) and head coach Scott Kirkpatrick, in his fourth season and 2016 MCAC Coach of the Year, is not taking anything for granted this season as he stated, “Our goal is to improve throughout the year and be consistent with our work habits as individuals and as a group. Our daily goal is to compete as hard as we can for as long as we can, and to give ourselves an opportunity/chance to win in every drill…the idea is that this carries over into our games and puts us into a position to have a chance to win in every game we play.”
On the 13 player squad, there are new players looking to make an immediate impact and continue the Rebels’ winning tradition. Kirkpatrick feels 6’2” rookie forward Josh Charr, from Fort Richmond Collegiate (Forward), 6’2” sophomore forward Garnet McLeod, from Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute and 6’0” rookie guard Marco Valera coming from Kelvin High School are key new additions. Along with those three players, 6’3” sophomore forward Briton Lewis, from West Kildonan Collegiate, 6’0” junior guard Matt Dyck, played at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute, and 5’11” second year guard Kyle Queijo, Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute alum, are new additional pieces to this year’s team that will off-set the departure of Rebels’ and MCAC 2017-18 leading scorer Chris Demauleon-Bartolay.
Beside the newcomers, returning players that will be leaned on by Kirkpatrick for the 2018-19 season are 6’7” third year forward Mark Ridd (averaged 10.5 points per game last season), 6’2” junior guard Steve Williamson (averaged 14.8 ppg. last season), 6’1” fourth year forward Mitch Podworny (averaged 11.0 ppg. last season), and 6’4” second year forward Aaron Backe (averaged 7.0 ppg. last season). Ridd and Williamson were also named NIAC All-Stars in 2017-18.
Kirkpatrick felt the second of back-to-back games are a different challenge as players battle fatigue, teams become more familiar in the second game with their opponent and especially when playing in hostile road environments. The head coach also commented on the unique of playing different rules (FIBA in Canada; NCAA in USA) and the wide range of styles of play from each opponent. Red River is a team that will have the ability to adjust and adapt to a style of play to be successful again this year and Kirkpatrick is pushing the team to be seen as one of the top defensive teams in NIAC.
Red River is gunning for another championship season in 2018-19 and the coach’s motto of, “Talent beats hard work when talent fails to work hard” will be shown all season as the Rebels compete hard for another title.
– By Chris Zuk