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Freemen Hoops One of Three
Joel Coursey shooting over a CMU defender

Providence men’s basketball earns 1-2 record in Prairie Challenge Cup

The Freemen men’s basketball squad left the 2009 Prairie Cup Challenge with a 1-2 record after falling to the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers 81-62, defeating College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface 61-52, and facing a 73-62 loss at the hands of the Red River Rebels.

Providence started its run for the cup with a Thursday evening home game against the always strong CMU Blazers. The Freemen started off on the wrong foot as they allowed CMU to take a 10-0 lead to start the game. However, led by a 16 point performance from point guard Jesse Funk, the Freemen started to put in a better overall effort to finish the half. But the second half mirrored the first as the Blazers once again started off with 10 unanswered points and the Freemen scrambled to try and catch back up. In the end it was too big of a hole to dig out of as the Blazers took the game 81-62.

Freemen Coach Juan Larios saw his team compete and play good ball during the game, but cited his team’s opening intensities as their biggest downfall.

“CMU had two big runs during the game, a 10-0 run at the beginning of the game and again at the beginning of the second half,” Coach Larios commented. “We lost the game by 19, that’s where the game was lost."

The Freemen then prepared for a Friday night match-up against CUSB in Winnipeg. Providence struggled with their shooting in the game, as the team only averaged a 25% overall field goal percentage. But behind the scoring tandem of the Funk brothers, Chris with 25 points and Jesse with 15, the squad was able to squeak out a 61-52 victory in a game that had the potential to be a blowout.

“CUSB plays a very passive defensive zone, but we were not able to get our shooting working,” Coach Larios said. “We won the game, but with a lot of frustration and that really hurt our confidence."

The Freemen then finished out their tourney with a Saturday match-up against the Rebels from Red River. The game presented a tough match-up, but also gave Providence the opportunity to redeem their play over the previous two games.

Providence saw the challenge and took it, arguably playing their best ball of the tourney. They were able to keep the game at a competitive score while dealing with a player who, in Coach Larios’ opinion, “is the most dominant player in the league." Sophomore Jesse Funk once again put in a strong performance as he was given the tough defensive assignment and was still able to put in 15 points. Senior Cam Friesen also poured in 18, but it was still not enough to match a potent Rebels offense as the Freemen fell 73-62 to finish the tourney with one win and two losses.

Freemen Coach Larios left the tournament knowing that he can ask more out his players in the coming weeks, but was pleased to see the positives shown in their final match-up against the Rebels. Coach Larios also leaves the game excited to see how his team performs in next weekend’s match-up against CUSB as he sees it as a good opportunity to see what kind of character this Freeman team possesses.

“We are a team that is progressing, but sometimes it's hard to measure success and progress during our struggles and losses,” Coach Larios said. “It happens to every team. The real question is how our players will respond after tough games and frustrating showings.”

The Freemen now travel to College Universitaire de Saint-Boniface on Saturday for their final game before the Christmas holidays.

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