Men look to defend MCAC championship ; women aim to improve

By Nik Kowalski

The Rebels men’s basketball team will look to defend their 2019 MCAC championship win. SUPPLIED BY MCAC

Men: Fresh Off MCAC Title, Rebels Aiming Higher

Led by fifth year coach Scott Kirkpatrick, the Rebels men’s basketball team is hoping to build off their 2018-19 MCAC championship.

The Rebels defeated Providence University College 76-68 in the 2019 MCAC championship game, and later beat PUC 96-85 in overtime in the first round of the NIAC playoffs. RRC’s season ended after a 74-72 semi-final loss to Leech Lake Tribal College.

2018-19 team MVP Mark Ridd is returning to the Rebels this season and at 6’7, Ridd is one of the league’s top rebounders.

Along with Ridd, Torrez McKoy, Kyle Queijo, and Steve Williamson are key returning players.

Mark Ride returns for his third season with the Rebels. Ridd has shown he is a top rebounder in the MCAC. SUPPLIED BY MCAC

McKoy was the NIAC’s leading scorer during the second half of the 2018-19 season and is a point guard who can do it all according to Kirkpatrick. 

Queijo, 6’0, is an outstanding shooter, while Williamson excels in rebounding and defending.

The Rebels are reloading with some new additions to replace the losses of key players Devin Kinch and Marco Valera.

Frankie Tocci, one of Kirkpatrick’s former players, headlines this year’s additions.

Tocci, a 6’7 forward, is reunited with Kirkpatrick after their time together at Maples Collegiate. Kirkpatrick describes Tocci as an incredible athlete and finisher around the rim, but also an elite defender.

Kirkpatrick’s team goals this season are to be at their best by January, improve individually and as a team each game, and to be in a position to compete for both the MCAC and NIAC titles.

Women: Young Rebels Team Looking to Surprise Competition

Cyzelle Mas returns for a second season at RRC. She was named the team’s MVP after an outstanding rookie season in 2018-19. SUPPLIED BY MCAC

With only four returning players, the Rebels are hoping some fresh faces can carry them further into the NIAC playoffs.

The Rebels went 5-9 last season, losing 65-36 in the first round of the playoffs.

While the team is young, five-time MCAC coach of the year Jaenas Pangilinan is back for his ninth season.

“We will need to be committed to getting our fitness level high and we need to continually grind at practice to improve all our skills… and really work on team defence,” said Pangilinan.

The Rebels will rely heavily on 2018-19 team MVP and All-Conference athlete Cyzelle Mas after a stellar rookie season. The second-year guard will have returning guard/forward Jodene Kowalchuk to help carry the offensive burden early on.

Pangilinan has been impressed by first-year point guard Alexis Garcia and centre Elsie Ruth, who should crack the opening day starting lineup.

“We will have a solid starting five when January comes around that will be able to compete with any team,” said Pangilinan.

Even with Mas, Kowalchuk, and some promising rookies, the Rebels’ season may depend on a late addition — an ace in the hole.

Lacey Finnbogason is set to join the Rebels once the winter semester begins. Finnbogason, a 5’10 forward, joined the Rebels in the 2015-16 season, but hasn’t been able to play full-time since. Pangilinan believes Finnbogason can be their best player down the stretch.

As for depth players to watch as the season develops, forward Janelle Peirre-Folster is entering her fourth and final season with the Rebels, while first-year shooting guard Kyla Clarke had some strong pre-season outings.

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