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Stellar Stolar Finishes Freemen
Joel Coursey

Stolar’s double-double leads Rebels to eliminate Providence from MCAC Championships

“Our team was hungry,” Freemen senior captain Jon Patterson said. “Everyone knew what had to happen in order for us to do well. We wanted to have the upset.”

The Providence Freemen entered this weekend’s Manitoba Colleges Athletics Conference Championship Tournament held at CMU hoping to ride their underdog status into the Championship Finals. Ranked #3 heading into the tourney, the Freemen earned themselves a Friday evening semi-final match-up against a talented Red River Rebels squad. The Freemen made it a competitive match, and held the lead at the half, but when the dust settled the Rebels came out on top 69-59, effectively eliminating the Freemen from the tourney and putting an end to their season.

The Freemen controlled the game early on as they came out and hit their shots out of the opening tip-off. Both sides employed a fast tempo early in the game, and gave the fans an exciting first-half of back-and-forth basketball. However, the Freemen took advantage of having their ace in the deck back, as senior captain Jon Patterson returned from injury to give an inspired effort, pouring in 14 of his team-high 16 points in the first half. Patterson’s output was enough to lead his Providence side to a slim 4-point lead at the half.

However, whatever was said in the Rebels locker room during the break effectively awoke 6’4” forward Josh Stolar as he started the second half on a tear. The junior dominated the paint out of the break and knocked down virtually every shot, as he capped off a double-double 18 point, 14 rebound performance. Freemen senior and player of the game Cam Friesen (6 pts) tried to rally his troops late, but Stolar’s Rebels were already too far ahead and they took the game with a 69-59 score.

“We knew that if we kept switching up our defensive strategies it would confuse Red River, and if we executed on offense we would succeed,” Patterson commented following the game. “After the first half we were doing both of those things and that gave us a lead into the second half. However, we were not able to keep up the intensity and the focus, some defensive mishaps and turnovers allowed Red River to creep ahead and control.”

“We played our best game of the season, but we only played it in the first half. Even though we lost, it was a good game to end on for this season.”

The loss eliminated the Freemen from the MCAC Championships, while the Rebels went on to pull off their own upset, winning the championship 70-65 over the #1 ranked CMU Blazers.

The Freemen squad ended their season with a 6-16 record and will lose four players to graduation next year. However, the squad shows signs of hope for the future as both of their All-Conference Selections, as well as this year’s leading scorer, remain eligible to return for next year’s campaign.

Article Written by Kaiten Critchlow

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