BURLINGTON, Ont. – The quest for the Wilson Cup continues Friday night from the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto with the OUA Final Four, as the remaining combatting schools are looking to be crowned 2015-16 OUA men's basketball champions.
(1) Ryerson Rams vs. (5) Windsor Lancers
As the top remaining seed in playoffs, the Rams will close out the OUA season at home on Coca Cola Court. Ryerson hopes this proves to be advantageous, as it has all year, as the Rams have not dropping a single game at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, going a perfect 10-0 in the process.
This streak includes a recent triumph over the Lakehead Thunderwolves in quarterfinal action 93-71, which punched Ryerson's ticket into the semi-final round. The Rams were led by a pair of all-stars in the victory, with first-team all-star Adika Peter-McNeilly (Scarborough, Ont.) and second-team all-star Ammanuel Diressa (Toronto, Ont.) each scoring a team-high 19 points.
Patrick Tatham, fresh off being named OUA Coach of the Year in his first season as interim head coach of the Rams, spearheads a team who was potent at both ends of the court this season, averaging the most points per game (89.3), while also collecting the most defensive rebounds per game (31.5).
Another Rams first-team all-star, Aaron Best (Scarborough, Ont.), proved to be one of the most well-rounded players in OUA this year and played a key role in the Rams being such a dynamic team, as he finished in the top 10 in the province in overall shooting (50.8%), three-point shooting (43.5%), rebounds per game (7.4) and points per game (17.8).
The Lancers are coming off a quarter-final thriller that was decided by just a single point, as they defeated the No. 5 ranked McMaster Marauders 79-78.
Windsor was led by Alex Campbell (Brampton, Ont.), who recently received an OUA first-team all-star nod for the first time in his career. Campbell had a monster game, recording game-highs in points (33), steals (3) and takeaways (6), while also adding a block. Forward Tyler Persaud (Toronto, Ont.) was also instrumental in the Lancers' victory, locking down a double-double with 12 points, to go along with a game-high 11 boards.
Eyes will also be on Isiah Osborne (Windsor, Ont.) in the semi-final matchup, as the human kinetics major is coming off being named the OUA Rookie of the Year, the first Lancer to do so since the 1995-96 season.
Although the Rams only lost two games all season long, one of the two losses came at the hands of the Lancers back on Nov. 18, by a score of 81-67. Campbell led the Lancers in the win with game-highs in points (25) and rebounds (14), while Randy Oriakhi (Toronto, Ont.) also added a double-double, recording 11 points and 12 rebounds. Despite the loss, Roshane Roberts (Vaughan, Ont.) was a bright spot for the Rams, scoring a team-high 21 points, while adding a game-high three steals.
(2) Ottawa Gee-Gees vs. (3) Carleton Ravens
The two top ranked teams in the country will face off once again in the "Battle of Ottawa," as the No. 1 nationally ranked Carleton Ravens and No. 2 uOttawa Gee-Gees will each be looking to grab a spot in the Wilson Cup final.
Leading the charge for the Gee-Gees will be 2015-16 OUA Player of the Year and first-team all-star Mike L'Africain (Oakville, Ont.), whose team leading 20.4 points per game was fifth most in the province this season. The point-guard also ranks in the top five in OUA in three-point shooting (41.8%), assists (101) and free-throw percentage (85.9).
As he was all season long, L'Africain remained clutch in the playoffs for the Gee-Gees, making what would end up being the game winning shot in his team's 73-72 quarter-final win over the Queen's Gaels. He recorded game-highs with 27 points, while dishing out five assists. Another first-team all-star played an important role in the victory, as Defensive Player of the Year Caleb Agada (Burlington, Ont.) had a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing a game-high 15 boards.
With Ottawa averaging the second most points per game in OUA (86.9), it will be interesting to see if defense does in fact win championships, as Carleton arguably lays claim to the league's strongest, allowing a league low of 60.7 points per game.
But the Ravens' strengths aren't reserved to the backcourt, as they finished the regular season scoring the third most points per game in the province, with a mark of 86.2. Their offensive talents were on full display in their quarter-final matchup, as they made quick work of the Brock Badgers, winning in convincing fashion 90-52.
The Ravens had an all-star of their own come up big in the round-of-eight, as OUA second-team honouree Connor Wood (Guelph, Ont.) had a game-high of a whopping 37 points, while snagging a team-high six rebounds.
First-team all-star Kaza Kajami-Keane (Ajax, Ont.) also played a big part in the lopsided win, tossing out a game-high three assists, which was nothing new for Kajami-Keane, as he led the conference in assists per game (6.6) this season. He also hit double digits in points, scoring 14.
Other players to watch in the semi-final matchup include a pair of OUA second-team all-stars: Ottawa's Nathan McCarthy (Burlington, Ont.), who led the league with 39 blocks, while shooting for the second best field goal percentage (60.6) and Carleton's Guillaume Payen Boucard (Montreal, Que.), who led his team with 14.6 points per game, ranking 20th in the province. Payen Boucard also ranked inside the top 20 in blocks (17) and field-goal percentage (53.8)
The Gee-Gees won both matchups against the Ravens this season, with the first being a tightknit affair on Jan. 16, finishing in a score of 75-73. Agada set the pace for the Gee-Gees with a team-high 23 points, to go along with a game-high 10 boards, while Kajami-Keane led the way for the Ravens with game-highs in points (24) and assists (6)
The second matchup between the two was the Feb. 5 Capital Hoops Classic, which ended in a 78-72 final. L'Africain had a game-high 23 points for the Gee-Gees, adding three assists and three rebounds in the process. Kajami-Keane once again played a pivotal role for the Ravens, along with Payn Boucard, as each scored 19 points, while the latter came away with a game-high 11 rebounds.
Final Four action begins Friday, Mar. 11 between the Ravens and Gee-Gees, with tipoff coming at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Lancers and Rams at 8 p.m. The bronze and gold medal games take place the following day at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively.
Catch all the final four action streaming live on OUA.tv.