Head coach: Jaenas Pangilinan, 9th season
Keys for the Rebels:
Key Additions: Alexis Garcia, Elsie Ruth Nantale, Alexis Arnold
Key Returnees: Jodene Kowalchuk, Czyelle Mas, Jaira Labelle
Season Preview: After a quarter-final finish in the 2019 NIAC (Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference), the Red River Rebels women’s basketball team looks to bounce back from their rebuild year with a strong push to be competitive and reclaim a Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC) championship title this season.
Jaenas Pangilinan, in his ninth season as head coach, starts this campaign with a 12 person lineup that has a good mix of new players and returning players.
Back this season is 5’7” guard Jodene Kowalchuk, in her fifth year of eligibility, and will add veteran leadership while Czyelle Mas, 5’4” guard and selected as 2018-19 NIAC All-Conference plus 2018-19 Team MVP, and Jaira Labelle, 5’7” guard, also come back for their second year and will be looked upon to build and improve on their strong rookie years.
For the Rebels, new additions include Alexis Garcia, 5’3” player who played at Vincent Massey Collegiate while Elsie Ruth Nantale is a 6’1” forward and Alexis Arnold, 5’9” forward from Vincent Massey Collegiate as Pangilinan commented on the trio, “they should all have great rookie years who are all expected to have smooth transitions to the college game.”
The new season starts versus Association Free Lutheran Bible School Conquerors on November 1-2 at home. The MCAC Championship weekend occurs on February 13-15 with the NIAC Championship is February 21-23.
Pangilinan is a five-time MCAC Coach of the Year and guided the Rebels to MCAC titles in five of the six consecutive years (2011-12 to 2016-17). He stated, “We are all looking forward to all the games and getting back to playing. Every game will be a challenge as all teams have upgraded and the league is competitive every year.”
The team seems to be poised to peak and gel as the head into the New Year in January for the playoffs in February. As with every year, an ongoing challenge is to continue to be healthy and available bodies going into the second semester.
The rewards, after an intense battle during this season, are a chance to return to competing for championships in both leagues and to raise another banner at Red River.
– By Chris Zuk