By Sean Rooney on January 12, 2019.
When Olds’ top player went down with a gash above her eye, the Medicine Hat College Rattlers women’s basketball team had a perfect opportunity to take control of the only team that had beat them this season.
Instead, a five-point lead disappeared, and the Broncos took third-quarter momentum before earning a 57-53 win at the Snake Pit Friday night.
In a battle of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference’s top two teams from the South Division, Olds earned a season series victory even if both sides admitted there’s still a long ways to go before March’s playoffs.
“This one hurts,” said Hat guard Morgan Muir. “We always knew that Olds was going to give us a good game, it’s always a physical game with them too.
“We think we need to capitalize, but we weren’t attacking the key like we should have been.”
Brittney Thibeaux, the conference’s leading scorer with 26 points per game, took an accidental hit fighting for a loose ball early in the third quarter. In her absence, guard Kyla Adams took over, scoring 13 of her game-high 19 points to put the visitors up seven entering the fourth.
Medicine Hat made a run and had a one-point lead twice in the late-going, but didn’t score a point in the final 2:37, missing free throws, put-backs and committing a pair of turnovers that led directly to fast break points which wound up being the margin of victory.
On the last of those turnovers, with Muir clearly felled from behind after getting past two defenders, the three-person officiating crew didn’t call a foul.
Rattlers coach Clayton Nielsen was diplomatic in his assessment.
“I don’t know how a person who is pretty fast, pretty agile, good balance falls off the plate,” said Nielsen. “Obviously we missed something.
“It doesn’t come down to the last plays that should count, we had a really bad third quarter. If we even tie the third quarter, we win, and that’s it right there.”
Muir had 10 points and seven steals, a dominant defensive force on a night neither team found much rythym offensively. Kendell Kuntz led the Rattlers with 13 points, while Katelyn Rozdeba had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Thibeaux had just six points, returning in the fourth but fouling out. Macyn Morning Bull and Meghan Swartz each had six points and 12 rebounds for Olds, which held Medicine Hat to a woeful 29.6 per cent field goal percentage.
“Medicine Hat is a terrific team, so we had to bring our A game to stay in,” said Olds coach Avery Harrison, whose team is now 9-2, barely behind the 10-2 Rattlers. “We both have a long way to go, neither one of us are ready yet.”
But they won’t meet up again until at least March. And if they’re tied in the standings, Olds now has the tiebreaker having gone 2-1 head-to-head.
“I don’t think we’ve had our best game yet,” said Muir, in her fourth year on the team. “There’s a lot of time here for us to improve, come together as a group.”
In the men’s game, the Rattlers did what they needed to do in handing Olds a 92-67 loss.
Jaamel Slack hit a pair of early three-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points. Kieron Burgess had 18 plus 15 rebounds as his side improved to 7-5.
Karan Gill had 18 points for Olds, now 2-9.
Both Rattlers teams face Ambrose’s Lions Saturday, at 6 and 8 p.m. respectively. Rattlers volleyball teams host Lethbridge at 1 and 3 p.m. at the Snake Pit, the first of three straight Saturdays where all four court teams host games on the same day.
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