By Ryan McCracken on February 12, 2018.
The Medicine Hat Rattlers control their own destiny entering the final three games of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference regular season.
The Rattlers sit 14-4 following a 78-65 victory over the Briercrest Clippers on Saturday at the Snake Pit, putting them into a tie with the SAIT Trojans for the top of the South Division standings. While the Trojans have two games in hand, the Rattlers can hand SAIT their third and fourth losses of the season in a pivotal home-and-home set this weekend.
“We’ve known for the last couple weekends that we control our own destiny as long as we keep taking care of business week-in and week-out,” said Rattlers head coach Rich Humphrey, whose squad clinched the post-season with Saturday’s win. “Now that we’ve taken care of the games we’re supposed to take care of, that big weekend is coming up. It’s exciting.”
While the Rattlers dropped their lone contest with the Trojans, 82-75, back in November, a sweep in their upcoming home-and-home series would give Medicine Hat the tiebreaker entering their final game of the year against the Ambrose Lions (10-8) on Feb. 24.
Part of Medicine Hat’s success will hinge on the performance of starting players like guard Aaron Cameron— who led the Rattlers with 19 points Saturday — and rebound specialists Osato Obaseki and Jon Sappleton.
“Osato is the leading rebounder in the whole conference and Jon Sappleton is No. 2,”said Humphrey. “We know that’s the backbone of our team, is rebounding, and those guys have the ability to control the game just on rebounds alone.”
While Obaseki continued his dominant ways in the paint with 18 rebounds Saturday, Humphrey opted to get many of his depth players onto the floor.
“I’ve been more than happy with the up-and-coming guys,” said Humphrey. “They work hard, they execute and their skill level is catching up, so I’m excited.”
Cameron added Medicine Hat’s depth players showcased the future of the team on Saturday while proving the current lineup can compete off the bench as well.
“It just shows we can play pretty deep on the floor,” said Cameron, adding the team’s bench players have provided crucial energy through the grueling season. “We rely on our guys to step up in moments where stuff can be rough or we just need guys to bring the energy.”
While a win is a win, Cameron says the Rattlers are far from satisfied with their performance over the weekend. As a result, that bench energy will prove pivotal when Medicine Hat’s season shifts to SAIT for the home-and-home opener on Friday.
“This weekend wasn’t our best and we’re not happy about it, but it’s something we can improve on in the week of practice that we have,” said Cameron. “Going into SAITwe want to bring energy, we want to bring intensity and a team effort. We want everybody to be locked in and ready to go, and playing for each other.”
Werre passes 1,000 rebounds
Medicine Hat Rattlers forward Kennedy Werre entered unexplored territory in Saturday’s ACAC women’s basketball game against the Briercrest Clippers at the Snake Pit.
While the Rattlers fell to 12-6 in a 66-51 setback, Werre’s 16 boards pushed her past quadruple digits to 1,014 in her career. The fifth-year forward recently set a new ACACrecord for career rebounds.
Guard Courtney Henry led the Rattlers with 12 points in the loss.
The Rattlers sit four points back of SAIT (14-2) for first place with three games left in the season.
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