Vanier Cheetahs Victorious: “I have been dreaming of this all my life.”
NPH CCAA CHAMPIONSHIP MVP
NPH CCAA CHAMPIONSHIP FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS
Jerome Blake – Vanier: 25 ppg
Dom Coward – Lethbridge: 18 ppg, 12 rebs
Bol Kong – NAIT: 21ppg, 10 rebs
Jacob Thom – VIU: 13 ppg, 7 rebs, 3 asts
Mike Wohlers – VIU: 19 ppg, 6 rebs
NPH CCAA CHAMPIONSHIP SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS
Andrew Kaban – VIU: 18 ppg, 4 rebs
Eric Smith – Durham: 16 ppg, 9 rebs
Shane Reece – NAIT: 17 ppg, 7 rebs
Inderbir Gill – UNBC: 15 ppg, 7 rebs
Morgan Duce – Lethbridge: 15 ppg, 7 rebs
Gold Medal Game – Vanier Cheetahs vs. Lethbridge Kodiaks
OSHAWA, ON–Jerome Blake. Jerome Blake. Jerome Blake.
The 5’11 guard was named the CCAA Championship MVP, and it was well deserved as he finished off the gold medal game with a tournament high 34 points. The smooth shooting combo guard from Chateauguay, Quebec was on fire throughout the three games for Vanier, and he ended the season on a high note.
The Vanier Cheetahs won their first CCAA title since 1987 by a final score of 102-85, and against all odds no less as they entered as the lowest non-host seed. But they proved all of the doubters wrong and put Quebec on the national map. They had one of the youngest teams in the tournament, but their exceptional coaching and solid fundamental play led them to the promise land.
The gym at Durham College was full as the fans from across the country who came out to see the final game of the CCAA season. Lethbridge and Vanier matched up after winning their first two games of the tournament, and they battled in a hard fought game for the national crown.
It was run and gun early, but the pace slowed down in the second quarter once the teams got comfortable.
Morgan Duce, whose play is akin to former Duke point guard Greg Paulus, was running the floor constantly for the Kodiaks. He pushed the pull in transition to one end, and set up multiple scoring opportunities for the team from southern Alberta. But the normally composed Duce struggled down the stretch, and was unable to lead his team to victory.
Big man Dom Coward was his usual dominant self in the post for Lethbridge, as he showed his complete arsenal of tools in this one. Leading the break with crisp outlets passes, blocking shots, getting huge rebounds and showing off a complete offensive skill set. He demonstrated why he was a one-time player at the University of Calgary, and why he could soon return to the CIS ranks.
However the Kodiaks were hampered by Coward getting in foul trouble in the fourth quarter. He picked up his fourth personal with nine minutes to play in the game, and after a short rest he came back into the game. But he was unable to play with his usual intensity and had to pick his spots down the stretch.
The hot shooting of Jerome Blake has overshadowed many of the other solid performances by the Cheetahs in this tournament. But Lenny Austin Antwi came out hard, as he posted 13 points in the first half, and finished the game with 24 and 6 rebounds.
Ben Millaud-Meunier was also huge for Vanier over the course of the tournament. The 6’3 guard had a significant size advantage over counterpart Morgan Duce, and he was constantly pushing the ball and setting up the offence for the squad from Ville de St. Laurent, Quebec. Much of what the big guard brings to the table does not show up in the box score, but it is the intangibles and the leadership abilities that make him such a valuable player.
Vanier guard Jerome Blake: “We proved to everybody that we are the best.”
Vanier guard Ben Millaud-Meunier: “It’s a dream come true. I have been dreaming of this all my life.”
NPH PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Vanier: Jerome Blake – 34 points, 6 rebounds
Lethbridge: Dom Coward – 22 points, 8 rebounds
Bronze Medal Game – VIU Mariners vs. MSVU Mystics
In one of the most thrilling games of the tournament, the VIU Mariners held on in the final seconds to defeat the MSVU Mystics by a score of 73-71. The Mystics barely missed a deep three pointer as time expired that would have given them the win.
The final few minutes was a wild back and forth affair, with diminunative guard Justin Hill knocking down a pair of huge three pointers to cut into the Mariners lead. Big man Luke Reynolds barely missed a layup, but he was fouled on the play and had the chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but he missed the back end of the two, and MSVU was forced to foul.
After both of these teams won games earlier in the day to earn entry into the bronze game, they played their second game of the day and fourth of the tournament. It was apparent from early on that neither team really had the legs necessary to play another high intensity game. But the final minute made up for a slow first half.
The teams from opposite coasts competed hard all game, however, Vancouver Island University came out on top. The Mariners entered the tournament as the top ranked team in the nation, but after falling in the semi-finals to Lethbridge last night, they had to fight for the bronze medal.
The Mariners had the advantage in terms of offensive firepower, with Jacob Thom, Andrew Kaban and Mike Wohlers all tearing it up on the offensive end all tournament. However the Mystics had unheralded players step up for them when they needed it most, Anthony Zinn, Justin Hill and Sean Boulay combining to drop nine three-pointers.
Boulay led the way for the team from Halifax, as he continued his hot shooting and finished the game with 19 points on 50% shooting. Zinn chipped in 16 and Hill had a dozen. It was a relatively impressive performance for the Mystics, as they entered as the six seed, and left their six consecutive nationals as the number four team in the country.
The anticipant crowd of the gold medal game was able to catch a glimpse of the final minute in the bronze, and they were impressed by the talent that was on display.
VIU coach Tony Bryce: “It got a little scrambly down the end.”
MSVU coach Rick Plato: “All you can ask for is the chance.”
NPH PLAYERS OF THE GAME
VIU: Jacob Thom – 13 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
MSVU: Sean Boulay – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
Bronze Qualifer 1– MSVU Mystics vs. UNBC Timberwolves
The Mount St. Vincent Mystics came out firing, and they didn’t slow down all game. In the early Bronze medal qualifier game on Day 3 of the CCAA Championships, the Mystics from Halifax shot the lights out in the first half, and stretched their lead to as many as twenty in the second quarter.
MSVU won the game by a final score of 84-49 in the biggest blowout of the tournament. They came out strong early, and never looked back.
Big man Luke Reynolds even got in on the action, as he nailed a deep three early in the game. He finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds for the Myctics. Sean Boulay had another big game for MSVU, as he had 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting and chipped in 7 rebounds.
MSVU simply shot the lights out in the first half, and it was nearly impossible to keep up with. They managed a commendable 64% from the field, and 55% from behind the arc in the opening two quarters. They finished the game shooting over 60% from the field, making it near impossible to keep up with that type of performance. Contrastingly, UNBC shot just under 30% from the field for the game, and found themselves down early.
The second half did not get any better for UNBC, as the barrage continued from MSVU. The Timberwolves were simply overmatched, and possibly tired, in this game. The early Bronze medal qualifier game is never easy for the teams at the CCAA Championships, as they both had to play yesterday and had little time to recover. However the Mystics were able to play a phenomenal game wire-to-wire, and blow out the T-Wolves.
UNBC entered the tournament as one of the favourites, as they earned one of the wild card bids to qualify as the second team from BC at nationals. However they seemed overmatched from day one, and their star player, and CCAA player of the year, Inderbir Gill was unable to find his groove all week.
It can often be difficult for teams to prepare for their games at nationals, as they face the same handful of teams all year, and then are forced to prepare for brand new opponents in consecutive days. The travel factor also could have played a factor for the teams from British Colombia, as both VIU and UNBC were unable to make the finals after making the long trip across three time zones earlier this week.
MSVU guard Justin Hill: “Our main focus was defence.”
UNBC coach Todd Jordan: “They were switching defences and it confused us.”
NPH PLAYERS OF THE GAME
UNBC: Francis Rowe – 9 points, 6 rebounds
MSVU: Sean Boulay – 13 points, 7 rebounds
Bronze medal qualifier 2 – VIU Mariners vs. NAIT Ooks
The bronze medal matchup is set. The VIU Mariners withstood a late comeback from the NAIT Ooks and defeated the Alberta champions by a score of 87-80. It was another strong team effort by the Mariners, and they have a chance to take home third place.
In a matchup between two strong teams, the top-ranked VIU Mariners faced the NAIT Ooks. This game featured some of the top CCAA talent in the country, with Bol Kong leading the charge for the Ooks, and the Mariners being led by Jacob Thom and BCCAA MVP Andrew Kaban.
In an attempt to prevent NAIT from driving to the hoop, the Mariners showed some 2-3 zone. But it was difficult for them to deal with Shane Reece down low, and Kong driving and shooting from all over the floor.
NAIT took a four point lead into the break, with 16 from Kong and 12 form big man Shane Reece. But the game shifted towards VIU in the second half. The three-headed attack from VIU, with Thom, Kaban and guard Mike Wohlers all having big games once again. The three players led the Mariners all year, and they did not disappoint in this game.
Kaban has been making it work with his unorthodox lefty release all season, and he continued the solid play today. The 6’4 forward finished with 24 and 6. Wohlers had another quiet game but he always manages to show up in the box score. He finished with 21 this time around after going for 31 last night. Thom had a great all around game for the Mariners, as he went for 21 and 11.
It was a tale of two halves for Bol Kong once again. He started off hot in the first half with 16 points and four from downtown, but he finished with just 20 points. The future St. Francis Xavier X-Men has always struggled with consistency, but hopefully a move to the CIS next year will help him with that. Everyone knows that he has all of the skill in the world, it is just a matter of harnessing it and getting a full game effort.
Despite being overshadowed by the star power of Kong, NAIT big man Shane Reece was arguably one of the most consistent players of the tournament. Despite leaving the game late with a knee injury, he finished with 20 and 7 and he averaged 17 points and 7 boards for the tournament.
VIU guard Jacob Thom: “They are not that good of a shooting team.”
NAIT guard Bol Kong: “We did not show up to play today.”
NPH PLAYERS OF THE GAME
VIU: Jacon Thom – 21 points, 11 rebounds
NAIT: Clayton Crellin – 23 points, 10 rebounds
7th place game – Humber Hawks vs. Durham Lords
The Humber Hawks came out strong early in this game, and never looked back after taking a twenty five point lead into halftime. After losing their first two games of the tournament, the Hawks came into this game much more relaxed and shot the ball with a consistency that they lacked early at nationals.
They crossed the century mark and ended up winning the game 105-79 to finish off their season. The Hawks are losing starting guards Michael Acheampong and Kern Lewis, as Lewis will be graduating and Acheampong will be moving on to play CIS ball for the University of Victoria Vikes.
Lewis finished off his career with the Hawks in fine fashion, as he made it rain from downtown with four three-pointers. He finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds, but he will be sorely missed on the Hawks team that he spent five season on.
Acheampong struggled from the field in his finale for Humber, but he cleaned the glass and ended up with 7 points and 9 rebounds. The Vikes are losing a few guards, so Acheampong should be able to step in and make a significant impact in his two years out west.
The two Ontario teams failed to win their first two games at the CCAA Championships this year, and met for 7th place at Durham College. The teams are familiar with each other from OCAA action, but only the Hawks seemed necessarily inspired in this game after losing their first two.
It was a tough pill to swallow for Humber to play in this game. The OCAA champions entered nationals as the third ranked team in the nation, and were looking to win their first CCAA title since 2001. However they fell to MSVU and NAIT in their first two games to end up in this game.
Forward Akeem Sween had another impressive game for the Hawks with 17 points in the first half on 8/11 shooting. He finished with 19 and 3. His mysterious fouling out in the first game of the tournament was pivotal for Humber, as they sorely missed his consistent mid-range game.
Durham will also be looking to rebuild after this season. They will be losing OCAA Player of the Year Eric Smith, who will be graduating after this year. He is looking to play in the CIS next season, but has yet to commit to a school. Smith had 13 points of 6 of 8 shooting in his last game for the Lords, and he averaged 16 and 9 for the tournament.
Durham forward Eric Smith: “We couldn’t defend them.”
Humber forward Akeem Sween: “That’s what I do best. Shoot the ball. Everyone knows that.”
NPH PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Durham: Courtney Small – 23 points, 8 rebounds
Humber: Kern Lewis – 22 points, 4 three pointers, 6 rebounds