The 2019-20 season was the best record posted to date for the St. Mary’s University Men’s Lightning Basketball program. Competing in their eighth season in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) this past year, the Lightning have put an emphasis on building the overall program and establishing a winning culture.
In the 2015-16 season the Lightning posted a seven-win 14-loss season and finished sixth in the ACAC South Conference, following that year the program underwent some changes with the addition of now head coach Nathan Ruff for the start of the 2016-17 season. The record this season and the continual growth the program has seen has been part of the foundation this new Lightning program has been striving for. A team that aims for roster integrity, strong communication, hard work and great citizens.
At the beginning of the season the team featured eight returning players and added three new players to active roster spots. All three players added were U-Sport transfers, with one player returning to the Lightning after a few years away, ready to help take the Lightning to new heights.
With a 10-11 overall record, featuring nine losses by single digits and a team that tied for fourth place, barely losing out on the final ACAC playoff birth in a tiebreaker by just one point, this was the strongest season yet for the men’s squad.
A well-balanced team with great depth saw five Lightning players finish the year averaging double digits each night; Caleb Jipp, Wil Konybai, Ryan Morck, Jordan Britton and Johnpaul Okodua. All five Lightning players finished the season in the top 50 leader board of scoring for the ACAC per-game – the most top 50 appearances out of any other team in the ACAC.
Johnpaul Okodua had an exceptional second year of play while averaging 11.2 points a game he also averaged 12.2 rebounds a game second in the league for all rebounders and Johnpaul also led the league in blocks per game with 1.8 blocks each night. Johnpaul’s performance this year rebounding also saw him capture the St. Mary’s University Lightning single season rebounding record of 257 rebounds on the year and now sits just 90 rebounds shy of the all-time leader Jordan Britton. This season also saw Jordan Britton surpass 1000 career regular season points and is now the all-time leading scorer for the Lightning with 1077 career points.
Although the 19-20 campaign was successful the returning Lightning players were not satisfied with their result and aspire for more. Looking to return eight active players from the 2019-20 team they are preparing for another historic season full of firsts in 2020-21.