Men’s basketball disappointment
BY PATRICK MILLAR
In a shocking turn of events, the men’s basketball team’s season came to an end this weekend with two disappointing back-to-back losses to Algoma and Fanshawe at the OCAA men’s basketball tournament held at Algonquin.
The Thunder’s OCAA weekend started out with high hopes for the Thunder; they were the second highest ranked team in the regular season after a surge of young new talent joined the team in the past year, and they had home-field advantage.
On Thursday, playing the Algoma Thunderbirds in front of a vibrant home crowd, the men of Algonquin battled hard and ended the first quarter with a seven point lead. The Thunderbirds rebounded however, making 21 points in the second due to defensive breakdowns by the Thunder and Algoma’s own stellar defense holding Algonquin to only five points in the quarter . The Thunder had to try to catch up to a nine point Thunderbird lead going into the third. Unfortunately, despite a 20 point performance by Nehemiah Campbell, their valiant effort led them to a disappointing 64 – 57 loss. The loss meant their next game would be a bronze-medal quarterfinal, with the losers being eliminated altogether, as well as no chance for a gold medal on home soil.
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t execute defensively as well as we would have liked to,” said head coach Trevor Costello.
On Friday evening, the men of Algonquin and the Fanshawe Falcons seemed determined to move on to the semifinals and redeem themselves for their respective losses. The Thunder again came out with an aggressive start, with both teams seeming evenly matched and Algonquin holding a very slim two point lead over the Falcons halfway through the game.
The third quarter started, and a rejuvenated Falcons team took control of the tempo of the game. The Thunder started committed the same defensive zone mistakes that cost the men their first game and received multiple technical fouls. By the end of the quarter, Algonquin gave up nearly 30 points in the quarter and was at a 15-point deficit going in to the last ten minutes.
Not ready to surrender, the Thunder sparked a comeback led by Romaine Lawrence, and pulled within four points with little more than four minutes to go. The Thunder seemed poised to write a great comeback story before being given some poorly timed fouls and being struck with a sudden lack of finish to their shots. They ended up losing 66 – 57 and being eliminated from the tournament.
“This season had its ups and downs” said assistant coach Jim Langis. “Something like this is to be expected with a bunch of young new guys. It’s part of the growing and learning process with new teams.”
The Thunder ended their season only having lost three of their last ten games, and three losses at home the entire season. As coach Barnes said, this leaves a “definite bright spot” for the men’s future.
The eventual gold medal winners were the Mohawk Mountaineers, who overcame the playoff favorite Humber Hawks and left Humber settling for silver. In the bronze medal game, Fanshawe defeated Algoma soundly.