After an impressive regular season, the Rams were matched up against the York Lions in the first round of the OUA playoffs. They answered the call with a tough 83-77 win that was in contention until the final moments.
Head coach Roy Rana was nervous about this game. Though the Lions entered the game with an 8-12 record, Rana thinks it was misleading. “They’ve improved as the year has gone on,” Rana told NPH. “It was exactly what I thought it was going to be. I was very worried about this game…They’re a better team than people give them credit for.”
Both teams played hard, with neither taking full control of the tempo for extended periods of time. After the first quarter, the Rams led 20-17, but the score was tied at 36 at halftime.
This being the first playoff game at the new Mattamy Athletic Centre, and one between two intra-GTA rivals at that, the atmosphere was excellent. Fans of both teams had packed the stands and were loud. “It’s tough. We came in as underdogs but we played hard,” York fourth-year player Aaron Rados told NPH. “The whole game, we were right there. It’s just that last stretch where we fell apart.”
A group of Rams fans, pestered fourth-year York player Aaron Rados systematically when York was on offense. He didn’t seem to mind, as he had 14 points in the first 20 minutes of play. “That’s part of the game,” Rados said.
Ryerson built itself a 6-point lead after the third quarter at 58-52 and it wouldn’t relinquish it — though York came close. Three times in the final quarter, the Lions cut the lead to two points, but they never managed to get any closer. In part, this was thanks to point guard David Tyndale, who had 8 points in the fourth quarter alone.
For York, the loss means the end of Tyndale’s career. The native of Mississauga, Ont., was emotional walking off the court, and his teammate Rados felt it. “He’s a great player. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” he said. “He works hard and is a leader. We couldn’t have done much this year without him.”
The Rams also had nothing but good things to say about the departing Tyndale, too. “He’s had a great career. He’s been one of the better guards in the East for five years,” Coach Rana said. “Although I feel for him, I’m glad he’s going to be gone.”
Throughout the year, third-year Jordon Gauthier has been a little bit overlooked for Ryerson but he said he likes it that way. Though the Rams have possibly the best starting backcourt in Ontario, if not in Canada, the versatile Gauthier might be the one who puts the team above others. He’s a good shooter, and a good post player as well. “I’m quietly having one of my best years,” Gauthier told NPH, “and our team is rounding out well.”
And against York, he was 1b to Jahmal Jones’s 1a, chipping in 20 points and 7 rebounds.
Offensively, Aaron Rados led the Lions with 20 points. Tyndale (17), third-year Nick Tufegdzich (14) and second-year Matthew Ziobrowski (11) also scored in double figures. Rados said that he was proud of his teammates. “Be ready for us!” He said. “We’re going to make some noise next year!”
For the Rams, Jahmal Jones had a game-high 26 points. That said, it was a balanced effort that led Ryerson to victory, with Gauthier, second-year Aaron Best and third-year Bjorn Michaelsen chipping in, respectively, 20, 15 and 10 points each.
Next up for Ryerson is an away game at Ottawa on Feb. 23, against the No. 5-ranked Gee-Gees. This could have been a game in Toronto, but for a Rams loss against the lowly Toronto Varsity Blues on Feb. 15. But the Rams don’t dwell on it. “You can’t think about that,” Gauthier said. “We’re focused on tomorrow and getting our bodies ready for another fight.”
The winner of the contest will secure a place in next week’s Wilson Cup held at Ryerson. The Rams would obviously love to be part of it, but they can’t look ahead. Rana said that, “You just think about what’s ahead of you.”
The game against Ottawa is set for 8 p.m. Rana anticipates nothing but greatness. “Another war,” he said. “Ryerson and Ottawa games have become one of the best rivalries in the East division.”
- Aaron Rados: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
- David Tyndale: 17 points, 5 assists, 1 steal
- Jahmal Jones: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals
- Jordon Gauthier: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @CeeeBG & NPH @Northpolehoops
Tickets to the 2013 OUA Men’s final four (Friday March 1, Saturday March 2) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre are available HERE.