Ottawa ON—The entire country expected this year’s CIS Men’s Final 8 to end in a hometown battle between Carleton and Ottawa, but the Lakehead Thunderwolves threw a wrench in those plans with a 66-62 win over the Gee-Gees.
After being beat by Carleton in the first round of the OUA final four, the Thunderwolves have turned the corner looking like a team on a mission. Windsor was the first team to feel Lakehead’s wrath in the bronze medal game of the OUA playoffs, which gave the Thunderwolves their opportunity to compete at Nationals.
A convincing 74-61 win over #2 Cape Breton in the first round was the first step. They took the second step on Saturday when most thought they were destined for another bronze medal matchup. A 24-point performance by Joseph Jones against Ottawa ensured the Thunderwolves a medal.
“We just played our game,” Jones told NPH after the win. ”Coach gave us a 40 minute game plan. He told us if we execute it, and just keep going at it we would ware the other team down and get the win.”
Jones leads an impressive group of seniors, six in total that will be moving on next year. After the game he expressed his appreciation for the moment and the opportunity to go out as a champion.
“We work so hard for this,” Jones stressed. ”For six of us this is our last shot, and what better way to go out playing in the national championship.”
Although the Thunderwolves shot a poor percentage from the field [30%] and only 22% from three-point range, the effort was there at both ends of the floor. An effort Jones knows his team will have to bring forth on Sunday afternoon.
“This is our last hoorah, and we’re going to empty the tank tomorrow. We’re going to give it all we got win or lose.”
Ottawa’s Warren Ward ended his chase for a national title with a team-high 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Rookie Caleb Agada added 10 points, 7 rebounds in the loss.
Following the game Lakehead would have to wait for the second semi-final contest to end to find out who their opponent would be. A confident Jones would love to get revenge on the host Carleton Ravens after suffering a 72-51 loss to them in the first leg of the OUA final four a week ago.
“I would love to have revenge on Carleton. They’ve won the last eight out of ten championships. This is our first time ever playing in the national championship game. But whoever it is Lakehead will be the underdog, and we’re here to open eyes.”
NPH Top Performers
Joseph Jones—24 points, 6 rebounds (3-6 3PT FG)
Dwayne Harvey—12 points, 7 rebounds
Warren Ward—21 points, 10 rebounds
Caleb Agada—10 points, 7 rebounds
Gabriel G.Dubue—11 points, 9 rebounds