Contributed by: Tyler Bennett / College Court Report Canada (@CCR_Canada)
Welcome back, OUA men’s basketball.
It was a long month without any regular season basketball, but we managed to survive and now 2019 is upon us. That means a fresh start for every team across the province as they gear up to make second half runs at the postseason.
The opening weekend of the new calendar year provided little in terms of unexpected excitement. The results played out as anticipated for the most part. Some games, however, ended up closer than most would have predicted, while some teams received stand-out performances from their star players that carried them to victory.
A handful of players eclipsed the 30-point plateau, there was some high-caliber defence that helped some of the top contenders build momentum, and much more, so here are some of the top storylines you may have missed from the past weekend across the OUA landscape.
Guelph records perfect weekend behind pair of 30-point performances
Anything can happen in the Wild, Wild West (Division).
After the first weekend of 2019, there are just six points separating the teams in first place from those in fifth. Some impressive performances saw teams try to separate themselves from the rest of the pack, but with plenty of wins to go around, separation was hard to come by to kick off the calendar year.
One of the teams that tried to make a move this weekend was the Guelph Gryphons.
The Gryphons were at home to kick off 2019 with a pair of games against the visiting Lakehead Thunderwolves. Guelph ended the 2018 calendar year with back-to-back losses after a three-game winning streak. Then, over the holiday break, they went 0-3 at the Olga Hrycak UQAM Classic. The Gryphons were looking to get the second term started with some positive momentum, and they did just that thanks in part to 30-point outbursts from two of their stars over the weekend.
On Friday night, it was hometown product Tommy Yanchus (Guelph, Ont.) who took on a starring role for the Gryphons. Yanchus was one of three players to score in double figures for the Gryphons, as they would cruise to the 95-73 win to kick off the New Year.
Guelph held Lakehead under 20 points in each quarter while countering with at least 20 points of their own at every buzzer. They held an eight-point cushion after the opening 10 minutes, and they continued to build on their lead with each passing quarter.
Yanchus was at the forefront of the offensive attack on Friday. He went for 37 points in the win, finishing the night shooting 13-of-21 from the floor and 7-of-11 from three-point range. He was also a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
The pair of Banky Alade (Sherwood Park, Alta.) and Rasheed Weekes (Mississauga, Ont.) recorded double-doubles in the win. Alade finished with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists, while Weekes added 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Inspired by Yanchus’ performance on Friday night, Malcolm Glanville (Toronto, Ont.) stepped into the spotlight on Saturday to carry the Gryphons to another win in a much closer contest against Lakehead. Guelph needed a second half comeback and overtime to pick up the 91-87 decision, but did so just the same to cap off their perfect weekend.
Lakehead took a 43-30 lead into the break and looked to be in full control of the contest, much like Guelph did the previous night. However, the Gryphons outscored the Thunderwolves by a 29-15 margin in the third quarter to erase Lakehead’s double-digit lead. The teams were tied at 78-all at the end of regulation and the game was off to overtime.
In the extra frame, the teams traded baskets early on to push the score to 80-apiece. With 4:00 left to play, Glanville hit a pair of free throws to give the Gryphons an 82-80 lead and they wouldn’t look back. Weekes followed that up with a jumper to push the lead to four points, and Guelph rolled to victory from there.
Glanville finished the night with 39 points to go along with eight rebounds in the win. He went 12-of-21 from the floor and 12-of-15 from the free throw line on the night. Weekes recorded yet another double-double, posting 20 points and 13 rebounds in the win.
The wins pushed Guelph’s record to 5-7 on the year and they are now 5-2 over their past seven regular season games. After a slow start to the year, the Gryphons have seemingly found their groove as of late. In a West Division that appears to be up for grabs, Guelph could be getting in a groove at just the right time. They have offensive weapons who can go off at any given time, as evidenced by this weekend’s standout performances, and that could very well carry them to the post-season.
Consider yourselves warned - don’t sleep on the Gryphons in the second half.
Carleton sweeps through the Six to remain undefeated
It was the most anticipated matchup of the season to date and it certainly lived up to the hype.
Back and forth action. A second half comeback that fell short by the home side. One team remains undefeated on their quest for the Wilson Cup, while the other took their first loss of the season. Saturday’s showdown between the Carleton Ravens and Ryerson Rams was as exciting as advertised, and it was the start of a perfect weekend for the Ravens in the Six.
Saturday night inside the Mattamy Athletic Centre saw the Ravens and Rams put their unbeaten records on the line. The Ravens came out of the gates strong to take a 44-26 lead into the locker room after the opening 20 minutes. The Rams looked as though they didn’t have an answer for Carleton’s offensive attack, and after the heavyweight punch from their opponents to start the contest, they were then dealt another blow early in the third quarter.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Ryerson lost forward Tanor Ngom (Dakar, Senegal) for the rest of the night due to an injury. While many wondered at the time if the loss of the 7’2’’ forward would put the final nail in the coffin for the Rams, it may have inspired the team to win it for one of their own.
The Rams found a second wind in the third and fourth quarters, launching a comeback effort that made things interesting down the stretch. The Rams outscored the Ravens by seven points in the third quarter to cut the deficit down to a more manageable 11 points, 59-48.
Ryerson would continue their comeback efforts in the final frame, but would fall short in the end. Carleton got significant contributions from their bench that helped carry them to the 76-69 win and remain undefeated on the year. The loss ended Ryerson’s bid at their own perfect season.
Eddie Ekiyor (Ottawa, Ont.) led the Ravens with 23 points and seven rebounds off the bench in the win, while Yasiin Joseph (Ottawa, Ont.) added 20 points and two rebounds in a reserve role of his own. TJ Lall (Cambridge, Ont.) led the starters for Carleton with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
For the Rams, it was Myles Charvis (Mississauga, Ont.) who led the way despite the loss. Charvis finished with 23 points, three rebounds, three assists, and four steals in a strong two-way effort. JV Mukama (Hamilton, Ont.) added 20 points and six rebounds in the loss.
From there, the Ravens remained in Toronto to take on the Toronto Varsity Blues on Sunday afternoon to cap off their weekend. It was a much closer battle than expected between the Ravens and the Blues, but Carleton held on for the 70-68 win against an inspired Varsity Blues squad.
The Ravens took a nine-point lead after the opening quarter, 22-13, and they looked to be in prime position to run away with the contest. Instead, Toronto came to fight and made it a one-point game heading into the final frame. It was back and forth down the stretch, but the Ravens held on for the two-point win to keep their perfect season intact.
Unlike Saturday, it was a balanced offensive attack for the Ravens on Sunday as four players scored in double-figures. Lall led the way with a team-high 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, while Munis Tutu (Windsor, Ont.) fell just short of a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Toronto was led by first-year guard Inaka Alvarez (Altafulla, Spain) who recorded a game-high 22 points on 7-of-14 shooting in the loss. Nikola Paradina (Toronto, Ont.) added 18 points and eight rebounds on the night.
At 12-0 on the year, the Ravens staked their claim to the #1 ranking in Canada with a perfect weekend in Toronto. They have passed each test thus far, and they are the team to beat without question this season.
Be sure to circle January 25th and 26th on your calendars, as the Varsity Blues and Rams make their way to Carleton for the much-anticipated rematches from this weekend.
Western remains tied for first with 80-75 win over Brock
Coming into 2019, three teams found themselves tied atop the West Division with 14 points apiece. Now, with the opening weekend in the books, only two teams have a share of top spot in the division.
One of those teams is the Western Mustangs.
This weekend saw the Mustangs take to the court just once, but it was on their home floor against the Brock Badgers. The Mustangs and Badgers were two of the three teams with 14 points at the start of the week and a win would have helped either team gain a bit of separation in the playoff race.
Home court advantage was on the side of Western on Saturday, and the Mustangs made the most of their opportunity against the Badgers. The purple ponies held down their home court to the tune of an 80-75 victory to kick off 2019 the right way.
Western held a sizeable advantage at halftime, leading Brock by a 39-26 margin after the first 20 minutes of action. It looked as though the Mustangs would cruise to a big victory, but the Badgers made a game of it in the third quarter.
In the third frame, Brock outscored Western, 28-19, and cut the deficit down to single digits ahead of the fourth quarter. The Badgers managed to get within two points on a pair of occasions, the second coming with under a minute to play thanks to a three pointer from Johneil Simpson (Toronto, Ont.), but Omar Shiddo (Toronto, Ont.) answered with a jumper of his own in the closing seconds to push the lead back to four, 56-52.
The fourth quarter saw the Badgers take a lead of their own around the midway point of the frame. A three-pointer from Kascius Small-Martin (Toronto, Ont.) with 3:30 left to play gave the visitors a 73-68 lead. From there, Western clamped down on the defensive end and controlled the game on offence to keep themselves in the game and limit the Badgers.
Western closed the game on a 12-2 run to overtake the Badgers and come away with the hard-fought five-point win, 80-75. The win helped the Mustangs keep pace atop the West Division with the Laurier Golden Hawks at 8-4, while the Badgers now sit a game back of the two-way tie for first place at 7-5.
Simpson led a trio of Badgers in double-figures, finishing with a team-high 18 points to go along with eight rebounds. Small-Martin added 16 points and six rebounds of his own, while second-year forward Daniel Cayer (Montreal, Que.) chipped in with 14 points, seven rebounds, and five steals in the loss.
For the Mustangs, it was the pair of Shiddo and Julian Walker (Barrie, Ont.) who led the way on Saturday. Shiddo finished with a game-high 24 points while adding four rebounds, and Walker chipped in with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Aryan Sharma (Milton, Ont.) came off the bench and contributed 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting.