Winnipeg, MB–In the final game of the nearly month long tournament, the Lakehead Thunderwolves defeated the Winnipeg Wesmen 84-67 to claim their second Wesmen Classic Men’s title in four years.
Lakehead Coach Scott Morrison spoke to NPH about the weekend.
“I was pretty happy with the performance this weekend from the guys, you never know how that first weekend after Christmas is going to be and I think all things considered we did a pretty good job.”
This was another game of intense match ups. The guard matchup featured highly skilled Winnipeg point guard Andrew Cunningham and well known perimeter defender Greg Carter of Lakehead. It was a good battle back and forth as you could see each player trying to one up his opponent.
The first half started slow but Lakehead’s defense kept Winnipeg in check. Ryan Thompson of the Thunderwolves, who had nine points at the half spoke about the teams start to the game.
“I think we came out a little sluggish, but our defense was alright in the first half, we lost a little bit of it in the second half and it got a little out of control.”
Defense was a point of emphasis this tournament as Coach Morrison said the Thunderwolves made some adjustments prior to Christmas and have since then kept their last five opponents under 70 points.
Another featured matchup was between the bigs. Winnipeg brought Benny Iko and Steven Wesley to take on Ryan Thompson and Yoosrie Salhia. This was a battle, literally as both teams came to fight down low for rebounds.
Salhia nearly nullified both of them by himself as he finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Ryan Thompson also created match up problems with his smooth outside jumper going (5/9) from three point range and finishing with 22 points.
The Winnipeg bigs brought toughness and tenacity as both Wesley and Iko earned all-star selections for their hard work throughout the tournament and final game.
The Lakehead depth was just too much for Winnipeg to handle as the three ball was falling at a high rate, shooting 13/25, 52% from three point range and 52.5% from the floor in the game. The shots kept falling as they poured it on in the second half, combined with their defense, they were just too much for the Wesmen.
Coach Morrison spoke about the momentum heading into the second half of the season.
“These next seven weekends are huge for us. If we can stay healthy and stay on focus we’ve got a shot to do some damage. Joe Hart, Matthew Schmidt, Joseph Jones, all did pretty well this weekend and we’re going to need to be deep if we’re going to compete in the OUA.”
Making it back to Nationals for a fourth straight time is on the mind of Lakehead and Ryan Thompson.
“We’re going to try and compete and get back to nationals, that’s our goal, we can’t predict that, we’ve just got to keep working hard.”
NPH Top Performers:
- Ryan Thompson – 22pts, 4rebs
- Yoosrie Salhia – 12pts, 12rebs, 5asts
- Greg Carter – 12pts, 7asts
- Benny Iko – 16pts, 7rebs
- Steven Wesley – 15pts, 6rebs, 4blks
- Travis Krahn – 14pts
Tournament MVP – Yoosrie Salhia
- Jordan Reaves
- Nick Loewen
- Steven Wesley
- Benny Iko
- Ryan Thompson