The OUA quarterfinals took place on Wednesday night, and for those of you out there that were expecting everything to go according to plan, there were a lot of people shaking their heads on Thursday morning.
In the OUA East, the York Lions gave retiring coach Bob Bain at least one more game to coach, as the 6-16 Lions knocked off the U of T Varsity Blues, who I had maintained all season were heavily overrated. The Lions now get the enviable task of travelling to Ottawa to take on the Carleton Ravens, but keep in mind that York shocked the nation earlier this season when they knocked off the Ravens. Can they do it again?
In the West, the #5 Laurier Golden Hawks travelled to London and absolutely destroyed the #4 Western Mustangs 89-70. Take a look at the box score and note the rebounding differential. That's NOT a mistake...Laurier outrebounded the Mustangs 48-27. They will now advance to face the top seeded Windsor Lancers on Saturday. In the last week of the season, Laurier fell to Windsor 91-90. This semifinal should be a good one.
I was actually at the other OUA West semifinal between the #6 Waterloo Warriors and the #3 McMaster Marauders. In a relatively sparse crowd at the Burridge Gym (due to the Canada-Russia hockey game), and with Keenan Jeppesen still out of the lineup, the Warriors were optimisitic coming into the game, despite having lost 7 of their last 8 games, and with Coach Tom Kieswetter never having won at Burridge.
Prior to the game, UW was not sure if top scorer Cam McIntyre would even play due to a number of different injuries, including bone fragments in his leg, and a possible broken toe. But he did play, and the Warriors led for most of the game, fuelled by seniors Dave Burnett, who started off 6-6 from the field before finishing with 18 points (including a 4-point play), and Matt Hayes, who had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and a number of timely blocks.
A great finish to this game. Down 62-60 with less than 10 seconds to play, the Marauders were forced to foul, and when they sent the injured Cam McIntyre to the line, he hit both free throws to put Waterloo up 64-60. After a clutch 3-pointer by Victor Raso, Mac once again fouled McIntyre, who again sunk both free throws to put Waterloo up 66-63 with 3.7 seconds left. At the buzzer, it was Raso once again with the shot to tie, but it was no good, and the Warriors came away with the upset win.
A couple of thoughts from seeing this game. First, it was quite a scene to see the Warriors mob Coach Kieswetter on the court after the final buzzer. This win meant a lot to the team. Second, that clutch 3 by Raso to narrow the lead to one far outweights the miss at the buzzer, and while the rookie guard will likely be stinging for a few days, this is a future all-star in this league, and that was a lot of pressure for a rookie in that situation. Third, Cam McIntyre going 4-4 from the free throw line in the closing 10 seconds is as clutch a performance as I've seen in the past decade.
The Warriors now advance to play #2 Lakehead in Thunder Bay on Saturday, and is there any place that would be tougher to play than Lakehead in the playoffs? It's an uphill road for the Warriors, but they are capable of beating the Thunderwolves. Remember that they only lost by a combined 9 points in their two games vs. Lakehead this season.
On a side note, why does the OUA East re-seed the quarterfinal winners for the semifinals, but the OUA West keeps the matchups concrete as if it were a bracket format? I would suggest that it should be the same for both.
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