Two weeks will decide playoff slate in Canada West
As we look at the slate of games ahead for this week, we are reminded how difficult it usually is to get a sweep in Canada West this season, with the parity in our League. When the top 3 or 4 teams do win a pair, as we saw last week, it separates them from the pack.
Ergo … the UC Dinos snatch a nail-biter from U of L on Saturday, and now have a real shot at the #1 spot. Manitoba Bisons, with 2 wins over Winnipeg, finish up at TWU this week, and appear to be solid in 3rd place with a predicted sweep. Regina Cougars made a big move by getting 2 from UVic, but they now have 4 competitive games, at Calgary, then at home vs the dreaded Huskies.
The UBC Thunderbirds come off a bye week, and head way East to Brandon for a series we might call a mis-match, but the ‘Cats will be wanting to spoil the party for the ‘Birds. UBC is home vs Winnipeg to finish the regular season, and they could really de-rail the Wesmen in their run for the playoffs.
Lethbridge Pronghorns stay on the road, and they need at least a split in Winnipeg to secure 4th, assuming they can win 2 at home against Trinity W in the final week. It gets very sticky at this point, as the Winnipeg Wesmen need 2 wins in their last 4 (home vs Leth., at UBC) to be higher than 7th, and 1 to get into that last slot. Alberta Golden Bears have 3 games left, and need 1 win to get into the playoffs; the Bears are at Saskatchewan then home for 1 game vs Calgary; the U of S Huskies need 4 wins to finish, which will be tough against traditional rivals like U of A and Regina. UVic Vikes do not control their own fate, and are most likely out of the post season, with a best record of 9-11 if they beat Brandon twice at home in the final week.
Mac and Okanagan Duel for Third – Explorer Division
We have a ‘must -win’ situation for both UBC-O Heat and MacEwan Griffins this week, as they square-off for 3rd place. It is likely to be one of 2 or even 3 series splits this week, with not much separating the teams, especially when you take home court in consideration . The Heat taking 2 might be a surprise, but would lock it up for them, while MacEwan need to make up ground over the final 2 weeks just to get to a tie-breaker scenario.
The top 2 teams are in Abbotsford, and a split seems reasonable here, but only if Kevon Parchment is back in action for the Fraser Valley Cascades as they face the 14-2 Wolf Pack of TRU. UFV is 7-1 at home and 3-5 away, while TRU are 7-1 both home and away; the ‘Pack are favoured, but we see the Cascades vets answering the call here.
Mt. Royal Cougars have a chance to sweep at UNBC , but the T’Wolves showed on Saturday at TRU that they have some fight remaining, despite their 3-13 record and their injury woes. The Cougars are 2-6 on the road, and need a big weekend to improve on that mark.
The Payton Manning ‘Thanks to All My Teammates’ Awards
The opening week of February was, indeed, ‘The Turn For Home’ , with now just 2 weeks
Ilarion Bonhomme returns to the Herd, and will make a difference. photo – UM Athletics
left in League play. We saw so many games last weekend demonstrating how the ‘stars can truly shine’, and also how much the fate of the team depends on their lesser-known teammates, who come through with essential contributions in critical situations.
Keith Omoerah tallies 39 points, 25 rebounds, and 7 assists to drive the Bisons to a sweep in the Winnipeg ‘Derby’ … but let’s celebrate also the return to the Herd of back-up point man, Ilarion Bonhomme, who gives great experience and depth of scoring, leadership, and defense as the playoffs approach.
Thomas Cooper produces 51 points, many crucial hoops in the 4th quarter, along with 12 rebounds and 13 assists in 2 wins over Lethbridge … but outside shooters, Lars Schleuter and Josh Owen-Thomas go 14/23 from 3 point range for a major impact in a key series.
Mamadou Gueye is the ‘Big Bear’ at Alberta, with his terrific 55 point, 15 rebound, 7 assist series as the GB’s hold tight to the final playoff spot … we also give a nod to red-shirt rookie Brody Clarke, who is a steady force in the front line, as he counts 33 points, 11 rebounds, 4 asst, 4 steals.
Jonathan Tull steps up again as the top offensive threat for the Regina Cougars, as his 47 points, 12 boards, 5 assists, and 6 steals propel the Cougs to a sweep of the UVic Vikes (their first such double over Victoria in ‘recorded history’) … Tull gets help from several ‘mates, including guard Alex Igual, who is double figures both nights, and the duo of Brian Ofori (17 pts/ 7 rebs) and Aaron McGowan (16 pts/ 8 reb/ 5 asst) , who came off the bench, into the breach, aiding in the big come-back on Saturday.
Fraser Valley splits their series at UBC-O, and they lose their all-star wing man, Kevon
UFV’s Manny Dulay is a key vet in the ‘small, but mighty’ Cascades line-up.
Parchment, for the Saturday game … however, the Cascades see the return to form of two integral veterans, guard Manny Dulay (40 points, 10 rebounds), and big man Nate Brown, with 37 points and 11 rebounds in the series. Let’s hope we see Parchment recover, so UFV can field their best team down the stretch.
MacEwan have the dynamic Denzel James with his 48 points, 11 rebounds and 4 steals in a split with Mt. Royal. The Cougars respond with their consistent pair in the post, James Lefebvre (36 pts, 13 reb) and rookie Brett Layton, the League’s top rebounder (10.4 rpg) … off the bench for the Griffs, fortunately, comes Ryan Coleman, a veteran forward, who scores 15 points / 5 rebs Saturday in their win. For MRU, the 1st year wing man, Neil Phillip displays his full range of talent, with 23 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 3 blocks in the 2 games.