Long Road for 1st Round Play-off Teams

 

 

 4  Competitive Series in 1st Round of Playoffs

              … Thursday start for ‘Play-in’ series’ in Canada West

As the top 4 seeds, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and UBC rest-up, heal, and prepare, there is no slow-down for the 8 teams heading into the ‘Play-in’ series this weekend.  Games start at Manitoba and Winnipeg on Thursday night in two of the best of 3 sets, with Brandon and Lethbridge hosting series’ to begin on Friday.

Here are the match-ups –

Keith Omoerah contributes to the Bisons offense in many ways.      Photo – J. Miller, UM Sports

#12 Regina Cougars at # 5 Manitoba Bisons –  If we look at the past history between these teams, we might be tempted to call this a lock for the Herd.  Manitoba has beaten Regina in 15 of the most recent 16 meetings, including a January sweep at Regina (84-75, and 93-81).  But the Bisons have not been as convincing over the past month, with a couple of losses at Brandon, then close calls with UNBC, and both nights last weekend against Mt. Royal. Regina comes off a solid weekend at home, where they swept the TRU Wolf Pack.

The Cougars and Bisons are both laden with experience;  Regina features guards Alex Igual (14.7 ppg/ 4.6 rebs/ 3.3 assts), Brandon Tull (13.5 ppg/ 4.5 rebs) and rookie, Johneil Johnson (12.2 ppg/ 3.7 rebs). Forwards, Brian Ofori (13 ppg/ 6.3 rebs) and  Travis Sylvestre (9 ppg/ 3.6 rebs) have played well of late.

Manitoba have a strong, veteran group, with Justus Alleyn their top scorer at 17.4 ppg/3.6 rebs, and the all-around play of Keith Omoerah (13.2 ppg/ 8.7 rebs).  AJ Basi (13.3 ppg) and Ilarion Bonhomme are dangerous back-court threats.  James Wagner, a big rookie can give the Bisons a boost inside, along with veteran post, Brett Jewell .  The question remains, ‘Which team can pull together and win 2 games this weekend?’  The home court favours Manitoba, and UBC awaits the winner .  (Central) 7:30 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (if a 3rd game is necessary)

Winnipeg’s William Sesay will be a key factor vs Fraser Valley.

#10  Fraser Valley Cascades at #7  Winnipeg Wesmen –  This is the other Thursday start, and we have two guard – oriented teams facing off after both just had road trip weekends.  The Cascades have the quick turnaround from a bus-trip up and back on the icy, snow-packed Coquihalla Highway to Kelowna last weekend.  Wash the uniforms, pack the bags, attend a brief 2 days of classes, and off they go to Winnipeg.  The Wesmen come off a 2 loss weekend in Victoria, and somehow have to ‘right the ship’ , and win the home series vs a UFV squad that has won 4 straight to finish the season.

5th year Cascades back-court shooters, Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon against  Winnipeg’s Denzel Lynch-Blair, Sean Tarver, and rookie,  Narcisse Ambanza. The much improved Fraser Valley post man, Nav Bains, battling with the Ws’ big Aussie import, Ryan Oirbans.  Talented complimentary players like the Wesmen’s William Sesay and Jamar Farley  vs Fraser Valley’s Denver Sparks-Guest, Mark Johnson, and Andrew Morris.

The Cascades have won 5 of the past 7 meetings, but the Wesmen have home court.  This is looking like a 3 game series.  Note the different game times (Central) –  Thursday at 7 pm, Friday at 3 pm, and Sat. , if necessary, again at 3 pm.  The Saskatchewan Huskies will host the winner in the quarter-finals. 

UVic’s Grant Sitton will be a focus for ‘Horns defenders this weekend.        photo – UVic Athletics

#11 Victoria Vikes at #6 Lethbridge Pronghorns –  Prior to last weekend’s play, the Vikes were literally hanging by a thread, and needing a home sweep of a good Winnipeg team to make the post-season.  They got that sweep, and now are in S. Alberta to face the ‘Horns, who own 2 League wins over the Vikes in January at Victoria.

The Pronghorns are the clear favourites with their guard leader, Dejon Burdeaux (17.1 ppg/ 5.4 rebs/ 4,5 asst/ 3.6 steals) , taking the team on his back, and leading them to key wins.  3 of Burdeaux’s main ‘wing men’ are the sharp-shooting British import, Elliott Sentance (17.6 ppg/ 7 rebs/ 40% from 3 pt),  Mike Pierzchala (11 ppg/ 6 rebs), a threat to ‘run the table’, and 6-8 Zac Overwater (11.6 ppg/ 4.3 rebs.

The Vikes have leaned very heavily on 6-8 Grant Sitton, who’s surely a Canada West all-star, with his 20 ppg/ 6.8 rebs/ and 1.2 steals.  UVic’s only other double digit scorer is rookie import guard Scott Kellum (13.2 ppg), who hits 44% from 3 pt range, and chalks -up 2.4 asst per game.  Justin Kinnear is close to 10 ppg at forward, and he will need help from  Jake Newman and Hassan Abdullahi on the glass, if the Vikes are to stay with the ‘Horns.

We like Lethbridge as the home team here;  Victoria will have to make another jump forward if they hope to get the wins.  Game times are (Mountain) 7 pm on both Friday and Saturday, and 3 pm for a Sunday game, if it’s needed.  The winner here travels to Edmonton to play the Bears in the quarter-finals.

#9 Thompson Rivers Wolf Pack   at  #8  Brandon Bobcats –  The Bobcats host their 1st play-off series since 2009 in the old gym  ( SI Director Matt Packwood tells us).  This is the 1st one in their new ‘Healthy Living Centre’.  These teams have only played 9 times, ever, with the most recent a BU home win over TRU in January of 2014, so we can’t rely on trends!

We will watch a compelling battle of the big men, as the ‘Pack bring 5th year, 6-7  import, Volodymyr Iegorov, along with 6-5 Luke Morris, and 6-5 Joe Davis, who are all double digit scorers , with Iegorov among the League’s top rebounders at 9.1 rpg. Brandon responds with high-scoring Earl Thompson Jr (16.2 ppg/ 8.6 rebs), 6-5 Chris Stanhope, and a surging giant in 6-11 John Paul from St. Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean.  Brandon’s guards are led by shooter, Tyvon Cooper, while TRU has wing man, Michael Rouault, and import guard, Derek Rhodes.

There will be some new-found excitement surrounding this Bobcats team at home, and, if they can limit their turnovers and continue their improved shooting, they may pull this off.  The ‘Pack played in the CW Final last year, and this young team are looking to take another crack at it.  Only improved guard play and team defense will get them to the next round.  It may take 3 games to sort this out.  Winner goes to Calgary to face the Dinos in quarter-finals. 

 

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Overtime –

  • UBC Coach, Kevin Hanson, with comments about the RPI system, whereby his 19-1 T-Birds finished as the  4th play-off seed,  “Overall, it’s frustrating but we have known that it’s been coming for a few weeks,” said Hanson.   “It is out of our control and we’re not whining about it. Our players are long over the shock. We are getting prepped to play whomever is put in front of us.  (From  Howard Tsumura’s ‘Varsity Letters’ blog  )
  • In that same ‘Varsity Letters’ posting from last weekend, Hanson reports that Conor Morgan has an ankle injury, but is expected to be ‘shooting by the end of the week.’  Guard Phil Jalalpoor is also getting treatment for an ankle injury. UBC has a bye as a top 4 team this week, and will be at home vs the winner of the Manitoba – Regina series Feb . 23-25.

 

 

Bears Hang Up a Big W at Saskatchewan

 

 

Bears outside shooting shocks the Huskies on Friday in Saskatoon

Mamadou Gueye and the Golden Bears claim a huge road W in Saskatoon. photo – U of A Athletics

 # 7  Alberta 80 at # 9 Saskatchewan 67 –  The Bears engage their top weapon, the 3 pt shot, with 13/27 – 48% from outside, and pull away in the closing minutes fo the big road win.  Alberta defense limited the Huskies to 38% from the floor, and the visitor’s sharp ball-handling gave them a 4-14 advantage in the turnover column.  6 points was as close as U of S got in the final frame, and Mamadou  Gueye’s 2 treys in the last 2 minutes iced the cake, and Alberta moves to 13-4.

The Bears get 22 pts from import guard, Austin Waddoups, as he cashes 4/6 from beyond the arc, and  Gueye finishes with 21 and 5 boards.  The Huskies (11-6) have 4 starters in double figures, with a 12 point/13 rebound game from Shane Osayande, and 16 pts/ 8 boards by Matt Forbes before he left with 5 fouls late in the 4th.  Box Score     8 pm Central again on Saturday

at Brandon 79  Manitoba  68 –   The Bobcats (8-11) poke a stick in the Bisons’ spokes,

Tyvon Cooper scores 21 as Brandon derails Manitoba in game 1.  Photo –   Bobcats Athletics

with some aggressive team defense and shut-out rebounding.  Manitoba can hit just 30% from the floor in dropping their 1st game in the last 9 League efforts.  Tyvon Cooper shines for the ‘Cats in this upset , with 21 pts/ 7 rebs/ 4 steals, and he gets lots of help.  Big men, John Paul (12 pts/ 13 boards) and Earl Thompson Jr  (13 pts/ 10 rebs), both record handy double-doubles, and Pookie Saunders deals out 8 helpers.  The frustrated Herd (10-7) have Ilarion Bonhomme, the ex-Brandon point man, collect 14 points/ 6 rebs/ 7 assists as their top man.  Keith Omoerah totals 13 pts/ 11 rebs for his double, but there’s not enough offense on the night for the visitors.   Box Score    7 pm  Central  on Saturday

 

 

at  Winnipeg 102  Regina 93 –  Regina (7-10) looked like their hot shooting would get them a road win, but their defense allows 57 points in the 2nd half to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.  It’s ‘very rare’ to shoot 58.5% from the floor (50% from 3 !) and manage to lose.  20 turnovers, and a +10 for the Ws from the foul line certainly aided the charging home side. Winnipeg (11-6) have 6 players in double digits, with Sean Tarver the leader, scoring 21, Denzel Lynch-Blair 18, and big Ryan Oirbans recording a double of 14 pts/ 10 assists/ 8 rebs.  The Cougars get 25 points/ 5 rebs/ 4 assts from the explosive Brian Ofori, and both Brandon Tull and Alex Igual drop 21 pts for the visitors.    Box Score         7 pm  Central on Saturday

# 6 Calgary 84 at Thompson Rivers 76 –  A 21-11 final frame gets Calgary to the road win, after they trail for most of the opening 30 minutes.  The Dinos overtake the Wolves despite a decided 3 point shooting edge for TRU (10-5), but Calgary makes more trips to the line (25/34 vs 14/18) .  The Dinos move up to 13-4, while the ‘Pack fall to 8-9, after a closely contested match.  Thomas Cooper helped UC finish strong, as he collects 22 pts/ 11 rebounds, and got help from Mambi Diawara, who was good for 14 pts.  4 TRU players hit double figures, with Derek Rhodes cashing 16 pts, and Volodymyr Iegorov scoring 14 plus 10 rebs/ 9 assts.  Box Score          7 pm Pacific  again Saturday

 

at  MacEwan 74   UBC-Okanagan  62  –   A big 2nd quarter gets the Griffins a clear lead, and they are even from there for their 7th win vs 11 losses on the season. GMU out-shoots (47% to 35%) and out-rebounds (43-33) the visiting Heat, who are now 2-15. Denzel James leads Mac with 15 pts/ 7 rebs/ 4 assts, while forward Ryan Coleman is off the bench for 14 pts/ 8 boards, and Keith Gerdes chips in with 13 pts/ 8 rebs. Both Austin Penrose (7 rebs) and Aldrich Berrios tally 16 points apiece for UBC-O.  Box Score                 7 pm Mountain  on Saturday

 at  Mt. Royal 96  Trinity Western 66 –  The Cougars open up a 51-30 half-time lead, and cruise to their 8th win, with 5 players hitting double figures.  TWU have offensive troubles stemming from 27 big turnovers, and they shoot only 3/5 free throws vs 19/25 for the home side.  Josh Ross paces MRU with his 16 pts/ 8 rebs/ 6 assts, while Brett Layton adds 14 pts/ 8 boards.  Max Vitala tallies 18 pts for Trinity, as they are now 2-15.  Box Score               6 pm Mountain on Saturday

Manny Dulay leads UFV to a come-from-behind win photo- UFV Athletics

at Fraser Valley 87 Victoria 83 –  A somewhat unexpected offensive explosion in Abbotsford, as the Vikes (7-10)  post 33 points to grab a 73-65 lead at the 3/4 mark, only to see the Cascades win the 4th by a 22-10 count for the come-back victory.  Manny Dulay’s 36 points for UFV (8-9) continue a personal hot streak, but none hotter than Friday.  Dulay splashes 8/11 from 3 pt range and adds 7 assists, while Andrew Morris helps with 14 pts.  as Fraser Valley shoots 51% from the floor.  The Vikes are 50% from outside on 14/28, but their offense stalls out in the 4th.  Grant Sitton scores 26 for the visitors on 4/8 from beyond the arc, and he adds 9 rebounds/ 5 assts.  Box Score        7 pm  Pacific  on Saturday

 

 at   UBC 123  UNBC 75  –  Up 56-37 at the break, the T’Birds top that with 67 points in the final 20 minutes to post a most lop-sided win.  Cruel and unusual ….  Conor Morgan pours in 36 pts for UBC, with 13 rebounds, while Taylor Browne notches 20 pts off the bench, as the Thunderbirds shoot 67% from the field.  UNBC  has 14 pts/ 5 assts/ 4 steals from James Agyeman Box Score              7 pm  Pacific on Saturday

 

Lethbridge has the bye this week

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Scores from the East –

Atlantic -at #10 Dalhousie 88 Memorial  63, at UPEI 92  UNB 77 , St. FX 85 at Saint Marys 83, at Acadia 101 Cape Breton  88

Thursday in Quebec  … at Concordia 68 Laval 54,  at #8 McGill 79  Bishops 62

In the OUA … #1 Carleton 74 # 3 Ottawa 61, at Toronto 79 York 58, at #5 Ryerson  70 Queens 59 ,  at Laurentian 73   Lakehead 67,  Western 79 at Algoma 67, at Nipissing 79  Guelph 69

 

Overtime –

  • Congratulations to Howard Tsumura, long-time Vancouver Province columnist and blogger, on his new website  ‘Varsity Letters’ . http://varsityletters.ca    This impressive site continues Howard’s amazing coverage of school sports, from high school to university.  He provides thoughtful profiles on individual athletes,  covers the progress of teams, leagues, and championships, with a very keen focus on British Columbia specifically.  It is great to see this popular writer continuing to  lead the way in covering so many amateur sports and athletes.
  • UVic vs UFV coaches’ thoughts going in to a pivotal weekend series,  “We know they can score and they have had some very good results in the second half of the year, knocking off Alberta and playing Calgary really tough,” Vikes Coach Craig Beaucamp said of the Cascades. “We are going to have our hands full, we have to play well on the defensive side of the ball for sure.”    The Cascades head man, Adam Friesen says, “UVic tries to grind it out and games like that come down to a possession here or there. Whoever wins the battles in the paint gives themselves a better chance to win.”   (From a story by   MARIO ANNICCHIARICO in the Victoria  TIMES COLONIST.)

Regina Roars Back to Dump the Dinos

 

Tull leads Cougars to much-needed home win

Regina’s Brian Ofori flushes one in the Cougars’ win over Calgary.  photo  UR Athletics

 at Regina 82  #5 Calgary  81 –  This may be the game that revives the Cougars (7-9) , as they erase a 20 point 2nd half deficit, and beat the Dinos down the stretch. Brandon Tull  leads the way with 20 points, as Regina shoots 53% from the floor, and deposits 31 in the bank in the final frame. Johneil Johnson comes off the bench for 16 pts, and Brian Ofori is big in the comeback with 14 pts/ 8 rebs/ 6 asst.  The Dinos lose another back half of a series, and surrender 56 points in the 2nd half.  UC’s high scorer is Thomas Cooper with 20 pts/ 7 rebounds, while David Kapinga hits 11 points, as they fall to 12-4.    Box Score

at #9 Saskatchewan  90 Mt. Royal 87 –   The Huskies had to fend off an inspired MRU squad, who are up 6 at the break, but see U of S pile up 52 points in the final 20 minutes. Double-doubles from the forward pair of Shane Osayande (23 pts/ 14 rebounds) and  Matt Forbes (20 pts/ 12 boards) paced the Huskies (12-6) to the win.   Guard Lawrence Moore cashes 10/10 free throws, as Saskatchewan has the home court blessing of 27/30  from the line vs just 9/13 for Mt. Royal.  The Cougars (7-9)  are close in the final 4 minutes, but never catch the Dogs.  Josh Ross scores 21 for MRU, and Brett Layton has 19 pts and 7 rebounds.   Box Score  

at Manitoba  77 UNBC  68 –     The Bisons outshoot the T’Wolves in a fairly evenly contested 2nd game.  Justus Alleyn, who has often been the leading trigger man for the Bisons offense, goes 7/11 for 19 points/4 asst in the 10th UM win, and 6th straight.  Manitoba (10-6), also had Keith Omoerah with 8 pts/  11 boards, and AJ Basi tossing in 12 pts/ 4 asst.  The 4-12 Timberwolves could never nose into a lead, even though they came within 1 and 2 at several stages in the 2nd half. Rhys Elliott scores 19 for the visitors, and Vaggelis Loukas posts a double of 12 pts/ 11 boards.   Box Score   

at MacEwan 77  Winnipeg  62   –  Good Mac defense, and cold Wesmen shooting (33% FG) give Mac a split, with a big win at home.  Out-scoring  Winnipeg 36-25 in the second half, the Griffs team – rebound for a 52-43 edge, and convert 18/28 from the line to Winnipeg’s 9/19. Denzel James scores 15 for Mac  (5-11) and adds 8 boards, with 3 others in double figures – Thadius Galvez 13 pts/ 7 rebs/ 4 asst,  Ryan Coleman 12 pts/ 9 boards, and Keith Gerdes 12 pts/ 8 rebs.   For the Wesmen (10-6), it’s Denzel Lynch-Blair with 20 pts/ 5 rebs, and Narcisse Ambanza scoring 16.     Box Score

The ‘Horns Dejon Burdeaux returns to help earn  a sweep of UBC-O.   photo- UL Athletics

at Lethbridge  83 UBC- Okanagan 61 –  Dejon Burdeaux  returns for the Pronghorns, and leads them with 20 pts and 5 steals. Elliott Sentance keeps pace with 16 pts/9 boards, as UL takes good advantage of 29 Okanagan turnovers, and move up to 12-6. UBC-O  shoots just 35%, with 6 treys vs 11 for the ‘Horns. Lethbridge is better from the line, with 20/23  vs 19/30  for the Heat. Austin Penrose scores 16 for UBC-O  (2-14)    Box Score  

 

 

Thompson Rivers 79  at Fraser Valley 67 –  The Wolf Pack (8-8) use their superior size, and take it to the hoop, forcing Fraser Valley to foul in this B.C show-down series.  Volodymyr Iegorov (14/16), Trent Monkman (9/10), and Joe Davis (5/5)  lead the ‘Pack to a 91% FT night and a 29-9 differential in points from the stripe.  Iegorov with 25 pts/ 12 boards, and Luke Morris with 14 and 10 rebs both record valuable double-doubles for the Orange.  The Cascades  (7-9) have Manny Dulay with 20 points/ 7 rebs, and Vijay Dhillon scoring 14, but they are out-rebounded 49-39 by TRU.    Box Score   

at #2 UBC 87  Brandon 53 –  Again tonight the T’Birds (15-1)  spread the minutes and the scoring, as Conor Morgan hits 21 pts and 19 rebounds, while Jordan Jensen-Whyte adds 16 pts/ 5 rebs/ 4 asst.  26 turnovers spell trouble for the Bobcats, and they shoot just 36% from the floor, while watching UBC hit 19/25 free throws vs BU’s 6/12.  Earl Thompson Jr manages just 11 points as the top scorer for Brandon (7-11) . Box Score   

at Victoria  69   Trinity Western  65 –  With the game tied at 65 with 4 minutes left, the Vikes Grant Sitton scores the only 4 points to finish, and the home team gets the sweep.   Victoria (7-9) have Scott Kellum as their spark-plug, as he goes 8/10 from the floor, including 5/6 from outside for 23 pts/ 4 rebs. Trinity (2-14) can never get un-tracked offensively, as Patrick Vandervelden is their top man with 16 pts/ 13 rebounds.   Box Score    

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Other U-Sports games on Saturday –

AUS – at UNB 84 Acadia 74, St Marys 105  at UPEI 98, Dalhousie 73 at Cape Breton  70

Quebec – Concordia 75  at Bishops 69 , at UQAM 70 Laval  65

Ontario – #1 Carleton 80 at Western Ont. 56, #3 Ottawa 78 at Windsor  64, at #6 Brock 89 at Guelph 62, Nipissing 65  at York  63, Laurentian 85 at Queens 64, Toronto 65 McMaster  57,  Laurier 82   Waterloo 75

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Overtime –        

Howard Tsumura’s major contributions to Post Media amateur sports coverage will be missed.

  • Canada West, B.C. Colleges, and B.C. High Schools will all feel the loss of veteran sports writer, Howard Tsumura, who announced Friday that he is taking his leave from the Vancouver Province newspaper immediately.  Tsumura’s coverage of amateur / school sport in British Columbia was phenomenol, and his week by week features had depth, perspective, and great connections with all the young athletes and their coaches.  Our thanks to Howard for his amazing work.  Good luck on your soon to be announced career move.
  • Mahmoud (Junior) Sesay (Winnipeg)  has left the U. of Lethbridge and the Pronghorns basketball team. The transfer from UVic , who had been away from the League for several years before joining the ‘Horns in January, apparently has some sort of medical issue making it very difficult to continue.