OTTAWA,ON–One week ago at the OUA Wilson Cup, Ottawa and Carleton’s basketball programs went to the wire in an instant classic won by the Gee-Gees at the buzzer. Now they meet again, in their hometown, for the real Capital Clash. This time, for all the marbles.
Carleton stifled Alberta in the first semi-final 79-55 led by Thomas Scrubb’s 22 points and seven rebounds, and Phil Scrubb’s 21. Ottawa sweated out a 78-70 victory over Victoria with Johnny Berhanemeskel leading the way with 24 points and eight rebounds.
When NPH was at the CIS Final 8 last year, Ottawa’s players and coaching staff were ecstatic with a Bronze medal they earned. It was the program’s best-ever showing and it continues to improve.
“Now the goal is to win the national championship,” said head Ottawa coach James Derouin. “We’ve had a lot of great players here and great alumni. It’s been a long time coming and we’re excited about our opportunity tomorrow.”
Carleton is ready for the rematch. Fifth-year forward Tyson Hinz said, “When you lose you’ve got to respect the other team. If they win (ed. they did) we’ve got another rematch tomorrow and that’s exciting. Revenge is always nice but we want the national championship.”
Let’s pick up the Carleton-Alberta game with 2:40 left in the third quarter and Alberta still without a field goal. CIS Player of the Year Phil Scrubb drills a three giving the Ravens a 52-29 lead. Carleton’s defence really picked up, crowding the paint and grabbing every rebound with their length. Dave Smart likely yelled something inspirational at halftime, the Ravens burst out of the halftime gates and won the quarter 23-4.
“We figured out they were spinning baseline in the post and we hadn’t seen that too much,” said Hinz who finished with a 13-10 double-double. “We had to keep taking the open shots but also get out in transition and get some easy ones.”
Carleton held them without a field goal for eight minutes… twice during this game.
In the fourth Hinz gets it in the post and spins baseline, beating the foul-ridden Baker. It’s a paradox. Baker’s still trying to defend every player on the Ravens team, but can’t do so effectively with the penalties stacked against him.
It couldn’t be much worse for Alberta’s First-Team All-Canadian forward Jordan Baker. First half stats: 0-3FG, 0pts, 1reb, 1ast. He finished with nine hard-earned points all coming in the final quarter when he unleashed the beast below the twine, whirling and whacking his way to second and third shot attempts, the adrenaline of a star burning out.
“He never quits,” Hinz said of Baker’s fourth-quarter fight. “I played with him one year when I was with the FISU team and he just keeps coming no matter what the score is or what quarter. I have a lot of respect for him and the way he plays. He’ll do everything, guard every position, he’s a hell of a player.”
Joel Friesen had 15 points including three treys for Alberta, and Mamadou Gueye kept the Golden Bears in the game with 12 off the bench.
The Ravens bench gets the loudest when Connor Wood drains long-balls. He hits 4-6 from outside. Ravens hit five threes in fourth quarter overall, but that wasn’t the norm in a game filled with scrappy play.
In the next game we pick it up in the first quarter. Berhanemeskel hits one three, Victoria head coach Craig Beaucamp approaches the bench and says “timeout if they score,” then as if he willed it to happen, Johnny Buckets nails another trey putting Ottawa up 13-4. Game on ice. Johnny’s the man, as our guy Charles Blouin-Gascon said in this week’s #CBGBunch.
Concern growing among Ottawa fans as Vikes close the gap with 21-14 advantage in the third quarter. Caleb Agada was an x-factor with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue held down the paint.
Fast-forward to the final three minutes of the fourth and Johnny’s back at it. Reiner Theil hits consecutive threes to make it a four-point game when Berhanemeskel answered with a trey of his own. McLaughlin approached the bench and predicted his fate yet again. Next possession: Berhanemeskel hits a step-back jumper to put Ottawa’s nerves at ease up 70-61 and they cruised the rest of the way to their matchup of destiny.
“I think it’s really good for Canadian basketball,” said Berhanemeskel. “They worked hard and we worked hard to compete with those guys and taking no days off. It paid off creating that final tomorrow afternoon and everybody’s looking forward to it.”
NPH Top Performers
- Johnny Berhane (Ottawa) – 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists (8/16 FG)
- Thomas Scrubb (Carleton) – 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists (8/15 FG)
- Phil Scrubb (Carleton) – 21 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists
- Chris McLaughlin (Victoria) – 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
- Tyson Hinz (Carleton) – 13 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists
- Terrell Evans (Victoria) – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
- Gabriel Gonthier-Dub (Ottawa) – 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
- Caleb Agada (Ottawa) – 12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks
- Marcus Tibbs (Victoria) – 15 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
- Joel Friesen (Alberta) – 15 points, 5 rebounds
- Mamadou Gueye (Alberta) – 12 points, 4 rebounds