Rebels Get Redemption As Blazers Fizzle In Conference Championship Rematch
Led by MCAC Scoring Leader, Chris Demauleon-Bartolay's 23 point performance, the Red River Rebels reclaimed the Willy Olaes Memorial Trophy on Saturday afternoon, 88-75 over the 2017 Conference Champion CMU Blazers.
In an unprecidented season that saw the three team conference deadlocked with identical records of 4 wins and 4 losses at the end of the regular season, there was little that separated the two finalists through the first 10 minutes at Providence University College, hosts of the 2018 MCAC Championship Final. Like two heavyweights, the Rebels and Blazers exchanged offensive blows, both knocking down field goal after field goal in a quarter that ended 25-21 in favour of CMU.
The tandem of Bryden Bukich and Kniel Sullera were key reasons the Blazers bounced into the lead. Bukich was masterful on the glass, grabbing three of his seven first half rebounds in the offensive zone and adding 6 points on 3 of 6 shooting. Sullera scored 7 points on 3 of 9 shooting and picked up a team-high 9 rebounds that included 3 offensive.
The Rebels picked up their defensive game in the second quarter and the game plan seemed to key on CMU sophomore guard Jaden Harms who struggled to establish himself offensively. CMU's January Male Athlete of the Month was held to zero points in the opening 20 minutes, attempting only 2 shots from the field. Mired in the drought, CMU could only collect 14 points in the second quarter, while Demaulean-Bartolay's perimeter shooting was on display for the Rebels. The University of Winnipeg transfer launched 8 attempts from three-point range, cashing in on 3 before the break.
Nick Kasmik was a bright light for the Blazers when the teams changed ends as the rookie guard came to life with 11 second half points. The Kelvin High School product went toe to toe with Championship MVP selection, Jared Garing in a thrilling backcourt dual with the Rebels guard getting the last laugh by way of a buzzer-beating dagger ending the third quarter with a bow to the sell-out crowd. Garing would finish with 20 points, 7 rebounds and a game-high 6 assists all coming in the second half.
In the end, the Rebels simply outpowered the defending champions, not allowing CMU to get points in the paint over the final 30 minutes. The big bodies of Mark Ridd (10 points, 16 rebounds), Steve Williamson (20 points, 6 rebounds) and Jasdeep Khangura (6 points, 7 rebounds) accounted for 29 rebounds.
With the MCAC Basketball season now over and done, Men's Basketball will be licking their lips as they look south of the border and next weekend's Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship where #6 CMU will matchup with the #3 Red River Rebels in a rematch of today's Championship Final in Fort Totten, North Dakota next Thursday morning. The 6-6 Blazers and 8-3 Rebels will step on the floor in NIAC quarterfinal action at Cankdeska Cikana Community College at 2:15 PM.