CALGARY, Alberta — The Ambrose Lions are trending upwards in the ACAC standings, and they will be looking to continue their rise in 2018-19.
In 2016-17. the Lions finished the year with a record of 7-14, accumulating 14 points to finish in fifth place in the ACAC South Division. Ambrose closed the season on a four-game losing streak, and finished the year 16 points out of the three-way tie for second place in the division.
The next year, the Lions continued to climb in the ACAC standings. Ambrose hovered around the .500 mark in 2017-18, finishing the season with a record of 10-11 (20 points). While they dropped a spot in the standings to sixth place, the South Division as a whole was much more balanced that the previous season.
Ambrose finished just six points out of a playoff spot, and are knocking on the door for more in 2018-19 and beyond.
In 2018-19, the Lions will be entering just their fourth season of competition as members of the ACAC, and they have continued to rise in the standings with each passing season. They are hoping to continue that trend this season and secure a spot at the ACAC Championships, which will be hosted by the Lakeland College Rustlers this season.
Four of the Lions’ losses last season came by single digits, including a loss to the SAIT Trojans by just a single point back on January 19th, 89-88. Wins in three of those games would have pushed Ambrose into the playoff picture and given them a shot to play for a league title.
The fact that the Lions were so close to a winning record and challenging for a spot in the eight-team playoffs should serve as motivation heading into the 2018-19 season.
Ambrose used a balanced offensive attack last season, posting four players with double-digit scoring averages and 10 players with an average of at least 4.0 points per contest. As a team, the Lions averaged a shade over 80 points per night out on 41.9% shooting from the floor and 36.3% shooting from three-point range.
The one knock on Ambrose from last season was free throw shooting, as they finished in 14th spot out of 15 teams in the ACAC after hitting on 63.3% of their attempts from the line.
Despite playing in just eight games last season before the Christmas break, all of which were starts, Marcus Harris led the Lions on offense. Harris averaged a team-high 19.4 points per contest on 48.4% shooting from the floor. He did a lot of his damage from beyond the arc, hitting on 57.4% of his three-point attempts over the eight games.
Harris posted 20+ points on six occasions, and he had a 35-point outing to his name against the Olds College Broncos back in November. Ambrose went 4-4 over Harris’ eight games.
Guard Josh Daniel was one of just two players to start in all 21 games for the Lions last season, and was one of just four players to play in all 21 contests. He finished second on the team in scoring with an average of 15.1 points per contest. Daniel also posted 4.0 rebounds and a team-leading 4.2 assists per night out. He had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.7:1 for the season.
Daniel showed that he was capable of carrying the offense throughout the season, as he posted double-digit points on 15 times and topped the 30-point mark twice. He also dished out at least four assists in 15 of the Lions’ 21 games.
Forward Nikola Ivanovic (14.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and guard Artez Scharer (12.0 ppg) rounded out the group of four players to average double-digit points per game in 2017-18.
Daniel and Ivanovic are expected to be back for the Lions in 2018-19, giving Ambrose a solid inside-out pair that should help the team continue their climb in the ACAC South Division. Forward Brayden Daniel should be in for an expanded role as a fourth-year player in 2018-19, and should rise to the occasion.
The Lions were in third place in the South Division at one point during the 2017-18 season. Seven losses over their last 11 contests to close the season did themselves no favours, and four straight losses at the end of the year sealed the deal for Ambrose in terms of their playoff aspirations.
In 2018-19, the Lions will be looking to bounce back after coming so close to the playoffs but limping to the finish. They have key contributors back on both sides of the ball, and their veterans will be looking to carry the team to the post-season for the first time in their brief ACAC history.
Will 2018-19 be the year? Only time will tell how it all plays out.
– T. Bennett