“Who are we playing?”
Ottawa Head Coach James Derouin asked the question jokingly in the post game, regarding the Gee-Gees next opponent.
The Carleton Ravens of course. The defending CIS National champs, and cross-town rival.
“Last year we were unprepared for it; we are prepared for this situation, prepared for Carleton and prepared to make the finals…we know them pretty well,” explained Derouin.
In order to play the rematch against CU, the Gee-Gees had to get through Ryerson first…and that they did in a 84-75 victory.
While the spotlight was on these two teams in the CIS Final 8 semi-finals, Derouin reminded everyone that Ryerson and Ottawa are familiar foes.
“Ryerson and Ottawa for the last three years straight…we’ve had some great wars.”
In this battle, Ottawa used a full team effort to get the job done. Five players hit double figures in scoring, with additional back up from other contributors.
Defensively, Caleb Agada, along with Mehdi Tihani made life difficult for Ryerson’s star PG Jahmal Jones, holding him to only two points on 1/7 from the field.
“Caleb is the best on ball defender, I think, in the country…I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Derouin confidently stated.
“Caleb and Mehdi on Jamal for 40 minutes. They know it, we know it and we leave them out on an island, it’s on them to contain Jahmal.”
Agada registered a game-high four steals. Offensively, Agada and Tihani added 10 points apiece.
CIS Player of the year Johnny Berhane, lead the way with 20 points, however it was stretch forward Vikas Gill and his long bombs that ignited the Gee-Gees during key moments.
Gill put in 18 points on 5/7 from three-point land.
Starting PG Mike L’Africain (13 points) was clutch down the stretch, highlighted by a pump fake and make to beat the shot clock.
Last but not least, Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue, who has been a rock for Ottawa for years was key in their attack.
GGD does a tremendous job of breaking down teams by attacking the heart of the defense–not only does he create opportunities in the post for himself, but his passing ability and vision to find cutters make him the glue for this team.
“We play small, and on most nights he’s down there fighting two, three guys by himself …that’s how strong he is down there,” explained Derouin referring to GGD.
Ottawa meets Carleton for all the marbles, and nothing changes for the Gee-Gees.
“We’re gonna go down firing threes, that’s how we play.”
Ryerson Helping Elevate CIS Hoops
The basketball environment during this game and others at CIS Final 8 cannot be understated. Roy Rana and Ryerson have done a tremendous job of exerting passionate bodies into the Mattamy Athletic Centre and developing an energy throughout the building.
“I take it personally that this event was a special one for Toronto and tonight was a special night. I don’t know if we’ve had a CIS basketball game like that [in Toronto] in a long time,” said Rana.
“When I got here we’d have 150 people in the game and we’d have to beg them to come. To see this kind of support from our students and our community is pretty special. I just wish we could have won and kept it going.”
Johnny Berhane – 20 pts, 4rbs, 3ast
Vikas Gill – 18 pts, 5rbs (6/11 FG, 5/7 3P)
Mike L’Africain – 13 pts, 2rbs, 3 ast
Mehdi Tihani – 10 pts, 4rbs
Caleb Agada – 10 pts, 8 rbs, 3 ast, 4stls
Gariel Gonthier-Dubue – 7pts, 7rbs, 5ast
Adika Peter-McNeilly – 17 pts, 4rbs (6/11 FG)
Jordon Gauthier – 14 pts, 4rbs
Jean-Victor Mukama – 12 pts, 7rbs, 3ast
Aaron Best – 12 pts, 9rbs,4ast, 2stls