MEDICINE HAT, AB — The Medicine Hat College Rattlers men’s basketball team is used to overcoming adversity.
Last year, the 21-3 Rattlers were forced to forfeit their first two games of the season due to an academically ineligible player. Despite the early setback, the crew captured a bronze medal at the ACAC championship.
This season, the team is dealing with a new challenge. Key forwards Collin Ralko and Kieron Burgess are both suspended indefinitely after being arrested by Medicine Hat Police in November. The pair are both facing a charge of assault with a weapon. The matter is still before the courts.
“We’ve decided not to speak about players not currently on the roster, and move forward with our current squad,” said head coach Rich Humphrey. “Adversity is the greatest coaching tool we have, and it only makes us stronger.”
MHC currently sits second in the ACAC's South Conference with a 6-2 record. Listed on the CCAA's national rankings throughout the season, the Rattlers open the 2018 docket with a pair of games in Olds College this weekend.
Thomas Laxdal is one of the current players who will likely see his playing minutes increase.
Laxdal, in his first year with the team, has averaged six minutes per game in the first half of the season, and says he is up for the challenge.
“(The coaches) have a plan for us all, we just have to trust what they’re doing is right for us, and keep working forward in practice,” he said.
Laxdal adds hard work will help the Rattlers as they move ahead in the second half of the season.
“Coach has us working on our scoutings of the other teams, we just have to move forward with our plans on how we’re going to guard the other teams during the rest of the semester,” he said.
Laxdal says the team is also a cohesive unit who helps rookie players adjust to the new system and balance school and team commitments.
Humphrey says his team has kept themselves in shape during the time away from the court, and they’re ready to get back and make a determined effort to reach the national championship.
“I know quite a few of them were in the weight room, a lot of them went from runs on their own,” he said. “I was surprised when they came back on Boxing Day, how in shape they really were, and we’ve been playing exhibitions ever since.”
The team went 3-2 during holiday exhibition play.
The Rattlers begin second semester action tonight, with both the men’s and women’s squad travelling to Olds to take on the Broncos. The women play at 6 p.m. and the men play at 8 p.m. They'll return to the Snake Pit on Saturday, Jan. 20, hosting St. Mary's University.
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