All good things must come to an end. For the Briercrest Clippers men’s basketball team, their season ended on Sunday with a bronze medal — their first medal in program history.
The Clippers were ranked No. 1 in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) and in the country for the last four weeks in the regular season and had high expectations for the ACAC championship over the weekend.
“It was first in many ways and at the same time, it was a little hard and painful to have to go to the bronze medal game,” said Clippers coach Rod Adrian. “We had high expectations to get to the gold medal game, so it was a little bittersweet.”
Briercrest opened the weekend with a 100-84 victory over University of Augustana on Friday. That set them up in a match against host Keyano and suffered a disheartening 108-85 loss and dropped them out of contention for the title.
“They shot really well from the three-point line…55 per cent and that is tough to overcome that. They fed off their home crowd and we didn’t respond. In the third quarter, they scored 33 points on us and we only scored 15. We just couldn’t overcome that,” stated Adrian. “Everyone played at a pretty high level against us. Keyano was fifth going into the weekend and they played above expectations. Hats off to them for putting together a good game. They only lost by three in the final, so they did put together some good wins.”
In the bronze medal game, the Clippers held on for the 97-95 victory over Lethbridge. They were up by 26 points at one point of the game, but Lethbridge pushed back after the Clippers used their bench. With this as their final game of the season, the Clippers wanted to come out and play hard, especially for the fifth year players — Gradyn Childerhose, Matt Myers and Kendell Boese.
“Our desire at the beginning of the game was to make sure everybody played. We went right to the end of our bench and that did create a closer game, but when we went back to our starters at the end, we felt like we had it in control. They hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to bring it within two,” he explained. “It showed a ton of character from our guys. We talked before the game about putting in a great effort on the floor in honour of our three fifth year guys. We played for them so that they could finish their careers out with a win. Our guys played really hard to the end, but just came up short in that one game.”
After such a successful season on many fronts, the Clippers are already looking forward to next season. This season was a building block not only for the Adrian as a second-year coach, but also for the program.
“I had a few people comment to me that this puts us on the map. It makes us a legitimate school that can compete at the highest level. That is another thing we will have to continue to live up to and create some momentum off this,” said Adrian. “We were able to do some really special things this year and some of the recognition that we received is going to definitely help in recruitment and hopefully this experience will help us get a better outcome as we move ahead.”