Rebels women’s home game this Friday in new athletic conference


Head coach Jaenas Pangilinan (left) and team captain Lacey Finnbogason (right) talk strategy with the women’s basketball team at their practice at Red River College on Jan. 23, 2018./ HANNAH OWCZAR

The long-running champion Red River Rebels women’s basketball team faces new hurdles as they compete in a brand-new conference this season.

Pangilinan said in past years, the team has played in the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference only, where they have won the championship six years running. However, the MCAC is less competitive this year, as there are now just three teams that play in the conference, compared to last year when there were five.

As a result, Pangilinan entered his team in the Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NIAC), a conference that includes teams from both Manitoba and the United States.

Pangilinan said the NIAC has been a competitive league for the women’s team.

“We’re really in the middle,” he said. “Some games have been blowouts, some of them are competitive. It’s a mixed bag.”

Jadene Kowalchuk has been playing on the team for two years. She said the NIAC has been a difficult transition because the league has different rules.

“It’s [NIAC] has been really tough,” said Kowalchuk. “The three-point line is shorter so there are more threes scored. The refs call the game much harder too.”

Team captain Lacey Finnbogason said the team has been facing new challenges in the NIAC.

“NIAC is awesome to play in because there is so much competition and such good teams to play against,” she said. “Every team we have played has different strengths and weaknesses so it makes it fun and challenging.”

Pangilinan, Kowalchuk and Finnbogason all said that the team has struggled with getting players out for games and practices.

“We’re having trouble getting enough players,” said Kowalchuk. “It’s hard to keep up when we only have six girls playing.”

Pangilinan said finding enough eligible athletes and convincing them to play have proven difficult this season.

Regardless, Pangilinan said the Rebels have a shot at claiming the MCAC championship title again this season.

“We always have a chance but it’s going to be tough,” he said.

Kowlachuk said she hopes the team can beat their Manitoban rivals, Canadian Mennonite University and Providence University College.

“We are all very competitive with each other, but we have a good shot.” Kowalchuk said. “We just need to really buckle down and get our offensive together.”

The Rebels will play their next home game this Friday, 8 p.m. at Red River College Notre Dame Campus against South Dakota’s Sisseton Wahpeton College.

“It will be a good game, you’re in for a treat,” said Pangilinan.