While the slackers everywhere east of Manitoba have yet to start up their seasons (except for one apparent game somewhere waaay out east), there was a whole slate of games this weekend in the Canada West conference on both the men's and women's side — but our weekly recaps will mostly focus on the men's side. This week, 12 teams were in action, including ranked teams Saskatchewan (#3), University of Fraser Valley (#7) and Trinity Western (#8). UBC (#5) sat idle.
Saskatchewan 105 @ Regina 68
These two played a single game rather than a two-game series to start the season and it pretty well went as expected, especially considering Saskatchewan's recent dominance over their provincial rivals. The Huskies had five players in double digits with first-year guard Evan Ostertag leading the way with 19, although much of that came in garbage time after Barry Rawlyk subbed out his entire lineup midway through the fourth quarter (which on the Canada West scoresheet, is listed as the OT2 period). The game was 71-49 after three, with the outcome barely in doubt and the Huskies got their performances from Jamelle Barrett and Duncan Jones, while big-men Nolan Brudehl and Michael Lieffers put up a combined 16 points in their limited time.
UFV 77 @ TRU 69 | UFV 83 @ TRU 91
Our first major upset in the conference came Saturday night as the hometown Thompson Rivers WolfPack earned the split, which is the first time they've ever beaten a ranked team. The WolfPack got a great performance over the weekend series from 3rd-year Las Vegas transfer student Justin King, who was moving the ball with confidence, took difficult mid-range shots, and threw his weight around in the paint.
I talked to a couple of former WolfPack players who suggested that King has the skill-set to be a double-double guy every game, and possibly even 20 points. I wish I had talked to them before the MUBL draft, but King definitely came through, putting up 20 points and 16 rebounds on Friday for the home opener and following it up with 32 and 10 for Saturday. The WolfPack (big W, big P) also got good shooting performances from first years Akeem Pierre and Will Ondrik (8-for-13 combined) and overall the 'Pack shot over 53% and dominated the second half 59-24.
A day before on Friday, however, it was Sam Freeman and Jasper Moedt who controlled the floor for the Cascades. Freeman put up 18, while Moedt looked strong in the fourth quarter and hit the dagger, a nice reverse one-handed layup to put UFV up by 11 with 1:13 to play (the game should have been a double-digit win, but Kevin Pribilsky hit a long three-ball at the buzzer to make the score more respectable).
Victoria 93 @ TWU 79 | Victoria 86 @ TWU 75
Here's another upset, but not as major as TRU defeating UFV, since the Vikes were theoretically supposed to compete this season. Although I guess knocking off the Spartans twice on the road can qualify as major. On Friday night, Victoria opened up with a 10-2 run thanks to some solid rebounding work by Mike Berg. Throughout the game, the Spartans failed to control anything off their defensive glass and the Vikes ended up with 16 offensive boards: four came from Berg. Ryan MacKinnon, coming off a strong second half of last season, put up 28 points in 32 minutes. While the score was close all game, Victoria never trailed.
Saturday night was a similar story. The Vikes took a 20-point lead to the half, but considering they shot just under 60%, only needed nine offensive rebounds to get the job done. MacKinnon went 6-for-9, Terrell Evans 4-for-6 and Pierce Anderson 6-for-7 for some strong performances off the bench. (Actually, for the weekend, Victoria's bench players outscored their Spartan counterparts 52-27, showing off their impressive depth.) Trinity clawed back on Saturday, but still fell to 0-2.
Other scores and key performances...
Lethbridge 71 @ Winnipeg 74: Dominique Brown was 4-for-4 from the line, including two clutch shots with :20 to go to put the Wesmen up by 5.
Alberta 91 @ Manitoba 81: Jordan Baker showed he's right there with the nation's elite players, with a 30-point, 24-rebound performance, including 9 and 5 in the fourth quarter.
Lethbridge 69 @ Winnipeg 68: The big college recruit Dominyc Coward had 10 rebounds and 14 points and showcased some good defense as the Pronghorns shut down the Wesmen late to earn their first win.
Calgary 75 @ Brandon 82: Emerick Ravier was 11-for-15 from the floor and had 31 points as the Bobcats edged the Dinos at home.
Alberta 83 @ Manitoba 85: Keith Omoerah hit the last Bisons shot from the field with three minutes to play to put Manitoba up by 10. Afterwards, it was a long performance of whistles and can't have been much fun, despite the close score. Bison Jonar Huertas put up 25 points and was 4-for-8 from three-point range, however.
Calgary 90 @ Brandon 62: Suffice to say, the Dinos shook off the close loss from Saturday night led mostly by Tyler Fidler, who put up a double-double (20-10) and had a pair of steals before he was pulled for good in a blowout.