HAMILTON,ON–Last year we witnessed Warren Ward come back from injury and lead the Ottawa Gee-Gees to the CIS Final 8. This year, former CIS rookie of the year Adam Presutti is back to his former self. Presutii lead the McMaster Marauders to a 79-62 victory over Acadia, posting 14 points, and eight assists on 5-of-10 from the field.
Four of five McMaster starters finished in double digit scoring, plus another off the bench.
For Acadia, Owen Klassen made a major contribution with 23 points, 11 rebounds and four assists on 5-of-10 from the field and 13-of-19 from the charity stripe. McMaster was in control of the game from the get go, setting the tone early and keeping a comfortable lead, eventually taking the win 79-62.
The ammo is fully loaded this year for the Marauders with Adam Presutti as general, Taylor Black and Nathan McCarthy on the interior, snipers Aaron Redpath and Nathan Pelech, while Leon Alexander offers strong slashing abilities. They are much more dangerous with Rohan Boney at full strength because this will allow head coach Amos Connolly to maneuver with positions.
Acadia head coach, Stephen Baur has weapons of his own but was without his lead guard Sean Stoqua, who is a key piece at the point for distribution, ball-handling, leadership and balance purposes. The Axemen were missing Stoqua in the worst way last night.
Without this lead guard on the floor, it changes Acadia’s offensive approach and increases their turnover numbers. A lot of the weight falls on the shoulders of Owen Klassen, the most skilled big man in the CIS, and arguably the best pro prospect in the country. He carried the load against McMaster, displaying toughness as he was played physical all night.
In his final year of eligibility, we can expect that Klassen will do everything in his power to get the Axemen back to the big stage for the CIS and compete for a national title.
Klassen shot 50% on the night, but as a team the Axemen were a measly 32% from the field. Not to make excuses for the Axemen, but that’s how big of an impact Stoqua would have been. He’s their primary ball handler and has full control under full court pressure. His ability to create quality scoring chances for teammates was missed last night. His return is unknown having broken his leg at a football practice for the Axemen.
A lot of credit has to be given to McMaster for their stifling defense starting with Taylor Black. Senior big man Black finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. He did all he could trying to make Klassen’s night hell and altered other Axemen shots.
“If we get 12-20 points and 8-12 boards out of him, we’re a pretty good team. I mean he’s in his fourth year, it’s that time,” said Head Coach Amos Connolly, regarding Black.
Although he didn’t have an eye-popping game statistically (11 points, 3 rebounds) J. C Richardson product, Leon Alexander reunites with his former high school teammate Redpath as a Marauder and a focal point for this team. I anticipate that he will be a large piece of this team’s success because of his defensive versatility; being able to guard positions 1 through 4. Alexander also brings a dynamic offensive skill set that will create mismatches for many teams in the OUA.
“This is the best that I’ve seen him work, like the Leon that we expected. Next week we’re going to Laval so he’s got three games to figure it out. He’s someone that’s not common for our school and not common for our league either in terms of his strength and athleticism. He’s like Rohan (Boney) with 20 extra pounds,” explained Coach Connolly.
Connolly also mentioned that once Boney is back at full strength we can expect to see both he, and Alexander on the floor about 20 minutes each, meaning slashing from both wings and highlight reels.
The Acadia Axemen are off to London, Ontario today to redeem themselves again the Western Mustangs and McMaster will play next weekend at the Laval tournament. Stay logged on to North Pole Hoops for more on CIS coverage from around the country.