Head coach: Scott Kirkpatrick, 5th season
Keys for the Rebels:
Key Additions: Francesco Tocci (Forward), JC Aaron (Guard), Trezon Morcilla (Forward)
Key Returnees: Torrez McKoy (Guard), Kyle Queijo (Guard), Mark Ridd (Forward), Steven Williamson (Guard)
Key Losses: Devin Kinch (6th man versatile player), Marco Valera (Guard)
Season Preview: The journey starts for a chance to repeat again as Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) champions and to improve on reaching the semi-finals last season at NIAC (Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) for the Red River Rebels men’s basketball team.
The Rebels have won the MCAC championships three times in the last five seasons (2016, ’18 and ’19) and head coach Scott Kirkpatrick, in his fifth season, is focused on the process this season. “Our goals are to become the best team we can be by end of January while continually improve individually and as a team in every game. At the end, we want to put ourselves in a position to compete for MCAC and NIAC Championships by seasons end.”
The 2019-20 season begins with home weekend series against Association Free Lutheran Bible School Conquerors on November 1-2. The MCAC Championship weekend is February 13-15 and NIAC Championship is February 21-23.
The team will have 15 players on this year’s lineup and have some exciting new players to mesh with the returning vets as they continue the winning Rebels tradition.
Some of the newcomers are Francesco Tocci who is a 6’7” forward and will be looked upon to be a strong defender on the boards and as a shot-blocker to kick in added scoring in the paint. In addition, JC Aaron, 5’8” guard, is described by Kirkpatrick as an “explosive, incredible in transition and excellent on-ball defender” while Trezon Morcilla, 6’4” forward, should light it up from the 3-point line along with dishing to his teammates.
Returning players that should be leaned upon in 2019-20 include Torrez McKoy, 6’0 guard, was NIAC All-Conference in 2018-19 while being the leading scorer in NIAC during the second half last season and one of the best player in the league. Kyle Queijo, 5’11” guard, is an outstanding shooter while Mark Ridd, 6’7” forward and 2018-19 NIAC All-Conference plus Team MVP last season, is one of the top rebounder defender and passer in the league. In addition, Steven Williamson, 6’3” guard, can disrupt a defence with his slashing to the basket coupled with strong rebounding and defence.
It is a grind, as the long season does not end until February with hopefully more hardware for this year’s squad. Kirkpatrick is cognizant of what lies ahead as “student-athletes have incredibly tough workloads and with the studying, and many needing to work part-time jobs it can be a challenge to get everyone together at practices and games regularly.” Another goal is to develop the depth by allowing players an opportunity to contribute and keep the team healthy down the stretch.
This looks to be another great season ahead for Red River and Kirkpatrick wants this group to enjoy the moments. “Seeing it come to an end…we have a great group of guys and despite all the challenges, it’s always tough finishing every season knowing this is the last time this group will compete together in this environment.”
– By Chris Zuk