By Nik Kowalski
Men: Rebels Complete Comeback with Strong Fourth Quarter
After slightly trailing throughout the first 30 minutes, a 26-12 fourth quarter propelled the Rebels to a 72-62 win over the visiting Association Free Lutheran Bible School Conquerors (AFLBS).
RRC point guard J.C. Aaron finished with a team-high 17 points and six assists, while small forward Justine De Leon contributed with a double-double of 14 points, 12 rebounds, and two steals.
Micah Moan carried ALFBS with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and six steals.
The Rebels scored just seven points in the first quarter and only 14 in the second. This led to a seven-point deficit at the half while shooting just 24.3 per cent from the field and 15.8 per cent from beyond the three-point line. RRC also didn’t attempt a free throw in the half.
“I told them some days shots don’t go in, but defence should never ever change,” said RRC head coach Scott Kirkpatrick. “We talked about making up for the offensive misses with better defensive energy.”
While AFLBS scored and shot better in the second half, the Rebels dialed in on offence. Both teams traded threes in the third, which ended with a momentum swing for RRC.
A Reggie Miller-esque sequence from De Leon got the comeback started. De Leon drained a three-pointer, stole the inbound pass, got fouled, and hit both free throws for a quick five points.
Star 6’7 recruit Frankie Tocci played a huge role in completing the comeback, scoring the majority of his 10 points in the final frame.
“The guys’ energy had a really big impact on me, and coach’s inspiration to get me to play my best and not dwell on my mistakes,” said Tocci post-game.
The Rebels went for 7 for 19 from three in the second half and added 14 points on 19 free throws. RRC’s 10 three-pointers made a big difference in erasing an AFLBS lead that peaked at 12 points.
Women: Clarke’s 26 Points Gives Rebels Comfortable Win
Led by shooting guard Kyla Clarke, the RRC women’s basketball team completed a weekend sweep of the AFLBS Conquerors.
Clarke finished with 26 points, three rebounds, and five steals in the 70-48 win, improving the Rebels record to 2-0. Forward Jodene Kowalchuk added nine rebounds and seven assists for RRC.
The Rebels got out to a quick 8-2 run before ALFBS guard Madison Trussoni went on a 5-0 run to keep the road team in the game after one quarter. Trussoni led the Conquerors with 19 points in the game.
In the second quarter, the Rebels made it their goal to penetrate the paint, getting out to a double-digit lead at the half thanks to Clarke’s team-high 10 first-half points.
AFLBS started the second with an offensive storm led by Trussoni, but the Rebels answered back with a surge of their own, leading 47-34 after the third.
Point guard Alexis Garcia went down late in the quarter, holding her left leg while in a lot of pain. Garcia limped off the court with the help of the trainers and did not return.
2018-19 team MVP Cyzelle Mas stepped up in Garcia’s absence, finishing with 11 points and three steals after some early struggles.
RRC drained six of 10 three-point attempts in the second half after missing all eight attempts in the first, a big reason for their 42 points in the final 20 minutes.
Clarke put the contest to bed early in the fourth, scoring nine points during an 11-2 run to start the final frame. RRC finished with 23 points in the quarter, cruising to a 22-point win.
Next on the schedule for the men’s and women’s RRC basketball teams is the PUC Pilots, who will come to the Notre Dame Campus on Friday at 6 p.m. in part one of a home-and-home series between the two MCAC clubs.
To read more about this year’s RRC Rebels basketball teams, read the season previews here.