Red River takes two straight in men’s basketball
10/25 - The men’s basketball squad started their season this weekend with two away game against the defending MCAC champions from Red River College. While both games saw the Freemen take early leads, the Rebels were able to mount dual comebacks to steal both games back with 79-67 and 86-63 scores respectively.
Providence came out strong to begin the game, and shocked the defending MCAC Champions with their new style and pace. Freshman Bahamian import Jon Thompson (14 pts, 5 rbs) led the Freemen to a 37-30 first half lead as he scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the first half.
However, the Freemen’s first game of the season also saw them experience their first taste of the injury bug, as the always charismatic freshman point guard Matt Antonio went down with a sprained ankle early in the half.
Freshmen Zach Beasley (15 pts, 8 rbs) and CJ Sears (13 pts, 5 rbs) picked up their game in an attempt to supplement the loss, but the Rebels were still able to slide their way into a late lead. Providence then furthered their troubles as they fell into foul trouble to finish out the game, allowing the Rebels to take a stranglehold on the game and finish it out with a 79-67 score.
The Rebels then once again hosted the re-match between the two squads. Providence started out the game strong behind a strong defensive effort that was lead by Sears’ seven-steal, nine-rebound performance, and were once again able to take an early lead to finish the first quarter up by four.
But the momentum shifted to the Rebels side early in the second quarter, as the Freemen’s offensive output began to slow while Red River picked theirs up, leading to the lead shifting in the Rebels’ favor by nine.
Red River then proceeded to come out of the half-time break on fire, and their veteran scorers lit up the court as the Rebels pulled away. Sophomore Chris Funk and Thompson both gave strong 14-point performances, but the Rebels were able to take the game in convincing fashion with an 86-63 scoreline.
Providence assistant coach Colton Gryba was pleased with his squad’s intensity early in both games, but stressed how important it will be for the team to keep that level of play throughout the game.
“We started off Friday’s game really well, running the offense and fast-breaking at good times,” coach Gryba commented following the weekend. “The defensive energy was also really high for the first half, but the loss of Matt in the second half really caused us to lose a step both offensively and defensively. The shortened bench also led to fatigue setting in on the guys, and it just all added up to the game ending in a loss.”
“The injuries left us with only seven guys for the second game. Turnovers really hurt us, and there was a lack of execution from the guys as well.”
“But our defensive energy was once again the strongest part of our game, and is something we can use to grow from as the season goes on.”
The Freemen play their next game when they head to Winnipeg next Friday to face the CMU Blazers.
Written By: Kaiten Critchlow
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