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Friday, March 9, 2012

Metros On The Brink of Elimination

Justin Belanger and the Metros will face elimination on Sunday afternoon at the Sportsplex.

Through the first 2 games of the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s Bent Division semi final series between the Metro Marauders and the Yarmouth Mariners, Yarmouth’s second line of Jared Hicks, Ryan Nickerson, and Andrew Wigg had been noticeably quiet, with only Hicks registering a single point. That all changed on Thursday night at Mariners Centre as the trio erupted for a combined 12 points as the Mariners drubbed the Marauders by a score of 8-3. Hicks led the onslaught with 4 goals and an assist, Wigg chipped in with 2 goals and 2 assists, while Nickerson added 3 assists. For Metro, regular season scoring leader Andrew Wigginton had his best outing of the playoffs, finishing with a goal and 2 assists, while playoff scoring leaders Dylan King and Justin Belanger continued their hot ways each having 2 point nights.

Chris Clarke got the call in goal for the second time in these playoffs to start Game 3 in place of regular starter Travis Hall who wasn’t at his best in Game 2. It would not matter though as the home side attacked instantly and opened the scoring just 42 seconds in when Wigg notched his first of the playoffs, deflecting a Derek Larade point shot past Clarke. The Mariners would strike again at 2:32 as Hicks would score his first of the postseason on the power play to make it 2-0. The Marauders would get one back however as on a power play of their own, Wigginton would walk in from the top of the right faceoff circle and wire a wrist shot past Yarmouth starter Charles Grant for his first of the playoffs to get the visitors back in it. Things would stay that way until 15:55 when Wigg would grab his second of the period, from Nickerson and Hicks to restore the 2 goal lead for Yarmouth. Hicks would add another just 10 seconds before the end of the period to give the Mariners a 4-1 advantage heading to the dressing room. Shots on goal in the period favored Yarmouth by a 16-7 margin.

The Mariners would keep coming in the second period as Hicks would pick up his hat trick goal at 5:04 on the power play, 5-1 Yarmouth. The Marauders would not roll over though, as Belanger scored his third of the playoffs at 7:08 to draw them within striking distance. Belanger would do it again on a Metro power play at the 16:10 mark, pulling the Marauders to within 5-3. Wigginton would assist both Belanger goals. That would be as close as the Marauders would get on this night.

In the third, Hicks would grab goal number four on the evening at the 2:07 mark with Chris Riguse in the box for high sticking to make it a 6-3 hockey game. Yarmouth goal scoring leader Mathieu Pompei got in on the action on another Mariners man advantage at 10:13, grabbing the rebound of an Andrew Walker point shot, making a quick move to the forehand, and going high glove side on Clarke for his fourth of the playoffs to make it 7-3. Yarmouth forward Morgan Mullen would add his second of the postseason with 38 seconds left in the game to round out the scoring and send Metro back to the drawing board, looking for answers as to how to slow the Mariners down.

Notes: Announced attendance at Mariners Centre was 1455. Grant made 21 stops in the win, Clarke had 32 saves to take the loss. The Marauders went 2 for 5 with the man advantage to bring their series total to 6 for 16, Yarmouth went 4 for 11 on the night to bring their series total to 7 for 17. King and Belanger continue to lead the league’s playoff scoring race with 9 points each. Pompei, Wigginton, and Rob McEwan are next with 7. Pompei has played 3 fewer games. With the win, Yarmouth has now won 13 straight games dating back to the regular season. The Marauders will look to keep their season alive in Game 4 of the series on Sunday. Game time is 4:00pm at Dartmouth Sportsplex.

Friday, March 11, 2011

CIS Basketball Championships Recap: Quarter Finals Belong to CanWest

Josh Whyte scored 19 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to lead UBC to victory over Acadia.
(Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick)
by Armaan Ahluwalia
The first day of the CIS Final 8 has now come and gone with tones of action taking place at the Metro Centre. There was some great basketball and some memorable moments and its not even close to being finished just yet. Day 1 was not really full of too many surprises but it had a bunch of thrills and some great basketball.

#1 UBC vs. #8 Acadia.

If there was a David vs. Goliath in this tournament this would be it. Unfortunately the outcome was all but expected. The Thunderbirds coming of an impressive victory over the Huskies in the Canada West Finals and the #1 ranking in the country. The Acadia Axemen were just lucky enough to get here to say the least.

This game started out with the makings of a classic. UBC only lead by 3 after the 1st quarter. By halftime it was only a 5 point deficit for the Axemen who were keeping pace with the Thunderbirds. This game was turning heads as this gritty Acadia team was giving problems to the #1 ranked team in the country. By the 3rd quarter’s end the Thunderbirds were up by 7 and they never looked back heading into the 4th quarter. They just took control and ended up winning by 19 points. Final Score 96-77.

A lot closer game if you take out the 4th quarter which did not go Acadia’s way, possibly because of the talent on the UBC team which started to show in the final stages of the game. Acadia’s Klassen had 22, Sears 19, McLaughlin 16 and Boutilier 8. UBC’s Doug Plumb lead the way with 20 points, Malish 17, Burke 13, Whyte 19. In the end the Thunderbirds out rebounded Acadia 50-28. The deeper bench helped UBC as they rotated often and with success. They move on to play TWU in the semi final.

#4 Lakehead vs. #5 Trinity Western University.

This was the most predicted upset of the day. Well the 4 vs. 5 seed is never really an upset but it has the makings for a great game thats for sure. The Thunderwolves OUA champs are not a flashy team and the TWU spartans are considered to be one of the top teams in a tough Canada West conference.

TWU started out strong in the first leaving the quarter with a 20-6 lead. From that point on it was pretty much the spartans game from there on in. The spartans had a huge height advantage over the Thunderwolves and it was made apparent early on. The second quarter was better for Lakehead but TWU lead going into half 39-28. Lakehead managed to have a very strong 4th quarter but was still unable to take the lead. TWU showed some signs of weakness as they found it hard to close out the final quarter when it should have been easily done.

This game was the spartans from the start as they dominated a favourable matchup. The Spartans leading scorers were Jacob Doerksen and Kyle Coston who both scored 20 points, Calvin Westbrook 16, Tyrell Mara 11. Lakehead was lead by Ryan Thompson with 18, Jamie Searle 15, Venzal Russell 13. The Thunderwolves were out rebounded by the Spartans 52-35. They move on to play UBC in the 1st semi final.

#3 Saskatchewan Huskies vs. #6 Dalhousie Tigers

This was anticipating to be the most intense game of the evening. They were right this was a great game. The Huskies coming up just short in the Canada West Finals against UBC. The Tigers winning the AUS against an exhausted Acadia team in thrashing style.

The Huskies went on to win but it was not easy. The first half was back and forth through out as both teams were trading baskets all the way through the game. There was a lot of intensity as the crowd was filled with masses of Tiger fans and a small but loud section of Huskies fans. The atmosphere was electric the entire game. I’m not sure what was said in the Huskies locker room at half but they sure started playing a lot better. The Huskies started rebounding better and capitalizing on Tiger turnovers. The 4th quarter belonged to Jamelle Barrett who dominated. The Huskies managed to shut down Farine and the offensive machine he is.

Jamelle Barrett lead the way for the Huskies with 27 points, Michael Lieffers had 19 points and 17 rebounds, Rejean Chabot 19 points, Nolan Brudehl 14. The Tigers were lead by Joseph Schow who would not quit and managed 24 points and 13 rebounds, Simone Farine 22 points, Juleous Grant 10 points who was quiet in the 2nd half. The Huskies move on to play the Carleton Ravens in the 2nd semi final.

#2 Carleton Ravens vs. #7 Concordia Stingers.

This game had much anticipation about it as well as everyone knew what Carleton was able to do after going 22-0 and then losing a close game to Lakehead in the OUA finals. Many people were not too sure what to expect from the Stingers as Quebec Basketball doesn’t get much coverage.

This game like the one before it started off with a back and forth swing as both teams traded baskets and after half time the lead was only one 34-33 for the Ravens. The ability of the Ravens to go with some bench players helped the Ravens as a majority of the Stingers played long minutes. The 3rd quarter was much of the same basket trading as the Ravens increased their lead to 2 points heading into the 4th. The 4th quarter was where the Ravens experience took advantage and they pulled ahead to win by 7 points. 73-66.

The Stingers were led by Decee Krah with 21 points, Kyle Desmarais 17, Evans Laroche 10, Zach Brisebois 9. The Ravens were led by CIS player of the year Tyson Hinz who had 19 points, Elliot Thompson 15, Willy Manigat 14, Thomas Scrubb 8. Their ability to spread the scoring helped them pull away. They meet Saskatchewan in the Semi finals.

Armaan Ahluwalia is a writer with the Dal Gazette and Follow him on twitter @therealbrindian.

AUS Shut Out; Tigers and Axemen Fall to Canwest Powers

The Top Seeded Thunderbirds held off a scrappy Axemen team to pull away in the fourth quarter

by Joel MacDougall

It was a tight game with neither team able to pull out to a big lead. Dal big man Joseph Schow led the way in the first half with thirteen points and six boards, staking the Tigers to a one point lead going into half. But in the end the Huskies were too much downing the Tigers 91-79.

The Saskatchewan Huskies rode a strong third quarter from Rejean Chabot to retake the lead going into the final frame.

Dalhousie failed to get the same offensive production from Schow in the second half. They abandoned the screen and roll game that got them the halftime lead. Instead they tried to rely on Schow’s low post game.

Simon Farine, AUS Championship MVP from the previous week, had 16 of his 22 points in the second half, but little else was added to him and Schow in the second half.

The Huskies meanwhile continued to get strong performances from their big 4. Nolan Brudehl, Michael Lieffers, Chabot and especially Jamelle Barrett continued their strong balanced attack and slowly began to put some distance between them and the Tigers.

Barrett, the Canada West MVP, took over the game in the fourth finishing with a dominating 27 points and 11 assists. He put the final nail in the Tigers coffin with a “HON candidate” behind-the-back pass that resulted in a three-point play (don’t tell TSN I used that – they’re touchy).

In the end it seemed that depth was the difference was too much for Dalhousie. Saskatchewan pulled away in the fourth and Dal couldn’t keep up.

In early action:

Acadia – 77
UBC – 96

Lakehead – 74
Trinity Western – 82

Joel MacDougall lives in Halifax and writes about all sports. Follow him on twitter @jmdougall.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

CIS Basketball Championships Preview: Tigers Play Host to the Defending Champion Huskies

Simon Farine's Tigers Return to the big stage two years after being brushed aside by UBC.

by Armaan Ahluwalia
On Friday night the 3rd ranked Saskatchewan Huskies will do battle against the 6th ranked Dalhousie Tigers at the Metro Centre in Halifax. Here is an individual breakdown of the teams, players and numbers.

#3 Saskatchewan Huskies – Canada West (20-4)

Key Players:

Jamelle Barrett 5’10, 25.3 ppg
Rejan Chabot 6’0, 21.6 ppg
Nolan Brudehl 6’6, 11.4 ppg 8.7 rpg

Meet The Huskies
This team has been described to be super athletic and fast. With bigs who can get up and down the floor causing problems for slower big men. Led by Barrett and Chabot who scored 25 points and 21 a game respectively. This team is set in the back court, with experience and explosiveness. The Huskies averaged 96.1 points a game and allowed only 80.7 during the regular season giving them plenty of breathing room. Now the scoring in the Canada West conference typically tends to be a run and gun shooting league with higher point totals than the more defensive AUS.

They have three guys at 6’8 with two of them getting substantial playing time. This is a team that has experience as they won it last year with a talented roster. They came in as an underdog and pulled off victories against UBC and Carleton on their way to winning it all. That team last year was different but with a lot of veteran guys in the mix this will help their cause. Their head coach is Barry Rawlyk who is the interim head coach, he is in his 4th year with the team.

#6 Dalhousie Tigers – AUS (14-6)

Key Players:

Simone Farine 6’2 19.1 ppg 6.4 rpg 4.5 apg
Joseph Schow 6’9 14.8 ppg 9.5 rpb
Juleous Grant 6’3 11.5 ppg

Meet The Tigers

Do not let their record fool you. This team is tough, gritty and knows how to shut down all-stars. This Dalhousie team is loaded with experienced players who are in their final year of eligibility. Their depth has been a strong point as they have a solid rotation going with players coming in to fill the roles everywhere. They are led by AUS All-star Simone Farine who was the MVP of the AUS tournament this past weekend. Helping outFarine is 5th year senior Joseph Schow who is a tough, passionate player who gets rebounds and creates matchup problems for defenses. The Tigers are a very strong defensive team who like to dictate the style of the game and shut down their star players. They shut down St. FX to 7 points in the first quarter of the semi-final and only allowed Acadia to 6 in the first quarter of the Championship.

This past AUS championship marks the 2nd time in three years for the Tigers and only the 3rd in school history. Last time the Tigers were a young team who made it to the CIS Final 8 and that experience will now play some dividends going back for a second time with a great chance. They average scoring 80.2 points a game and allow 68.2 points per game. In a league filled with All-Stars (Haywood, Upshaw, Carter) the Tigers have done their job in slowing down opposing offenses. John Campbell is their head coach in this 9th season.


This game is going to be televised on TSN 2 (live). I wonder why, this game has all the makings for an instant classic. Both these teams have fire power and explosiveness which make them so deadly. Let’s throw away the seeds for a minute as in the CIS it is hard to gage how a team does in different leagues.

The Huskies have great scoring ability and possibly one of the best players in the country Jamelle Barrett. They have great speed and athleticism which can cause teams a havoc. If the Huskies turn this game into a shootout, they will have the upper hand. Dalhousie is not a major scoring team that goes out and scores 100 points a game. That is just not who they are. They grind out games slowly by wearing down a team. The Tigers were exposed a little bit in the Acadia game as big and explosive 6’10 Owen Klassen gave Schow a tough time. For those that don’t know Joseph Schow he is a big 6’9 guy who is a great rebounder and a physical guy. He is also a tad slow which is something that Klassen is not. This could be important if the Huskies use their quick and explosive big men to try and get by the slower defensive Schow. Although in the second half of the Acadia game Klassen was ineffective due to a zone defense which made a difference. If the Huskies can increase the pace of the game which forces Dal to keep scoring they will have a good chance.

The Tigeres are extremely good defensively and do not allow teams to make good shots and really shut down key players when needed. Stephen Lopez might not show up on the scorers sheet with big numbers, but his biggest contribution is his speed and defensive skill. Lopez has been key with shutting down big offensive threats all season and with a deep bench their bench has been able to do the same. Schow and Sandy Veit have been absolute monsters on the offensive glass as their size has been causing problems all year. This is an advantage that Dal can use, with the 2 big men up front they will be able to control the glass against a slightly smaller Saskatchewan team. Their X-Factors in this game could be either Juleous Grant who usually starts and has that great scoring touch and plays solid minutes, he could get hot at any point in the game. Another player who could come off the bench and give some scoring to the Tigers is Peter Leighton, the 3 point shooter who is around a 50% shooter. Look for them to be key to help Dal control the style of game and not let it run away into a shootout.

Results / Prediction

I think that game will be extremely close as the Huskies can score lots of points and the Tigers can be good defensively. I think that the Tigers can pull the upset here at the Metro Centre already having some experience playing on it a week prior. I think that the Saskatchewan team will have some explosive athletes but I like Farine after having a monster AUS tournament where he dominated. I think that the deep bench will also play to Dal’s advantage and make a difference late in the game. Experience will play a big factor in this game as they made it 2 years ago and now their goal is to win it this time. I also think that Dal will be able to slow down the offensive machine in Saskatchewan even though they too have CIS Final 8 experience.

Armaan Ahluwalia is a writer with the Dal Gazette. Follow him on twitter @therealbrindian.
Sportstream is the webcasting home of the Saint Mary's Huskies and the Halifax Rainmen. Follow us on twitter @_sportstream_.

AUS Women's Basketball Championships Recap: Capers Go Back to Back

The Capers won thier Fourth AUS Title of the Fabian Mackenzie era.
(Photo Credit: Memorial Sports Information)

by Dave Chafe

St. Francis Xavier 73 - St. Mary's 64

Game 1 of the 2011 AUS Championship tournament saw the St. Mary's Huskies fall to the St. Francis Xavier X-Women in a game that was closer than the final score, 74-63, indicated. The X-Women opened the scoring with Ashley Stephen converting a layup directly off the opening tip and were clearly intent on keeping SMU's Justine Colley at bay by denying her the ball on SMU's ensuing possession. The Huskies responded with a spirited, energetic start of their own attacking X's interior defense with Maegan Seaward and Susanne Canvin. Seaward scored eight of the Huskies first 10 points with an assortment of drops steps and short hook shots powering past the smaller Kirsten Jones and after hitting only two three point shots all season, Canvin hit threes on consecutive possessions to further pace the SMU attack. The X-Women's pressure defense kept them within striking distance of SMU and allowed them to overcome some shooting woes for much of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw a return to regular season form for the Huskies' offense as Colley started handling the ball more against the steady pressure of Victoria Anderson and SMU seemed to forget about Canvin's post presence. X-Women posts Donisha Young and Jones also became more active sending Seaward to the Husky bench with her second foul early in the period. Seaward was replaced by Amanda Smith who gamely battled Young and Jones despite giving up considerable size. SMU's starters were further plagued by foul trouble as Rebecca Nuttall picked up her third which seemed to be a turning point in the game as the momentum clearly shifted to the X-Women. X continued to press their advantage taking their first lead of the game in dying seconds of the half to go into the break up 42-41.

The Huskies started the second half with purpose but after missing a number of relatively easy shots and having some unforced turnovers, were back on their heals as X raised their own intensity coming out of the locker room. Some highly productive offensive rebounding (10 in the second half, 15 in total) saw the X-Women start to stretch their half-time lead which ballooned after Nuttall picked up an early fourth foul and returned to the SMU bench. Both teams appeared to be tight in the fourth quarter as the game went without a field goal for either team for a stretch of almost five minutes. The Huskies applied a 2-2-1 press with some success forcing a number of turnovers and extra possessions but may have left it too late and resorted to fouling the force the X-Women to close out the game from the free throw line.

Donisha Young and Ashley Stephen finished with 17 points each for X with Stephen and Kirsten Jones combining for 26 rebounds to allow X to finish with a 48-33 edge on the boards. Justine Colley and Susanne Canvin both replied with 21 points each with Canvin also pulling down 11 rebounds.

Memorial 83 - Acadia 79

The host Memorial Seahawks and #5 seed Acadia played an entertaining opening quarter with the teams trading baskets in early going. Abbey Duinker scored Acadia's first seven points sending MUN's All-Star post Ally Forsey to the bench after an ineffective two minutes. The remainder of the period was a shootout between's MUN perimeter players and Acadia's Duinker sisters with Emma Duinker hitting several tough shots both inside and out. The three point shot featured prominently throughout the game with the teams combining for 18 threes on the night. Grace Fishbein's hustle and aggression sparked a huge second quarter run by Memorial giving the Seahawks a 16 point lead but the heady play of Emma Duinker helped Acadia stay within striking distance. The teams went into the half with MUN up 47-33 lead by Fishbein's 17 first half points. The Duinkers paced Acadia in the half with 12 points each.

The third quarter started much the way the second ended as Acadia held their composure during another MUN surge. However, the Seahawks attack remained one-dimensional with Forsey still unable to get on track and the perimeter shooting eventually cooled off just as Acadia's Ariel Smith started to find the range making three three-point shots in less than two minutes. Lindsay Harris and rookie Kristy Moore also joined the attack which saw the Axewomen finish the game with five players scoring in double figures. Memorial closed the period leading 66-55.

Acadia showed championship calibre resiliency in responding to a third attempt by the Seahawks to put the game out of reach with a scoring run. This time the Axewomen went on a run of their own as the Seahawks continued a season-long trend of struggling to score down the stretch and Acadia's final push brought them to within three points with 26 seconds to play. Fierce pressure by the Axewomen forced a Memorial turnover on an inbounds play with Moore hitting one of two free throws after a MUN foul. Acadia was in turn forced to foul Grace Fishbein on the ensuring possession to stop the clock. Fishbein, who tied with SMU's Susanne Canvin as the conference's best free throw shooter at 81% on the season, hit both free throws to seal the win.

Fishbein finished with a game high 31 points supported by Kim Devison who shot four from four from the three point line and Brittany Dalton who came within one assist of a triple double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Abbey Duinker had a stellar all-around performance of her own with 19 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Ariel Smith added 16 points with Emma Duinker and Lindsay Harris contributing 14 each.

Cape Breton 72 - Memorial 66

Cape Breton had an inauspicious start in their semi-final matchup with Memorial as their leading rebounder and defensive presence Denisha Haywood picked up her second personal foul on a questionable call with 7:41 remaining in the opening period and spent the remainder of the first half on the Capers bench. In her limited action Haywood displayed the type of impact she can have grabbing three rebounds and blocking two shots in the game's first two minutes.

Memorial was unable to fully take advantage of Haywood's absences however, as their leading scorer Grace Fishbein followed Haywood to the bench with two first period fouls of her own after scoring Memorial's first eight points. Despite losing Fishbein, Memorial was able to build a 24-12 lead on the strenght of Brittany Dalton's hot hand. Playing their first game of the tournament, the Capers were unable to establish any tempo offensively which limited their ability to get into their full court man defense.

Second quarter action saw the Capers' leading scorers Kari Everett and Jahlica Kirnon become more active offensively. Kirnon in particular proved to be a difficult matchup for MUN's defense as the Capers stormed back outscoring Memorial by nine to go into half-time leading 39-36. Also notable in the second quarter was an ongoing tough but ultimately clean war waged in the low post between Ally Forsey and Jen Parsons of Memorial and the Capers' Stephanie Toxopeus.

Denisha Haywood's return in the third period was short-lived as she almost immediately picked up two more fouls and took her place on the bench again. Kirnon picked up from where she left off in the first half again hitting several contested shots in traffic while Dalton and Fishbein answered for MUN. Dalton hit a huge three point shot to end a Capers' run that threatened to blow the game open. Despite Dalton's shot, Cape Breton was clearly building momentum heading into the fourth quarter.

The game remained a close physical contest throughout the second half but Memorial was never able to regain the lead. The physical nature was never more obvious than a play in which Capers guard Nicole Works sent Grace Fishbein to the floor with a hard play-off foul that might have been worthy of a flagrant call in a regular season game. Trailing by three in the dying seconds, Memorial resorted to fouling to stop the clock but the Capers hit three of four from the free throw line to seal a six point win.

Kirnon finished the game with 19 points for the Capers while Kari Everett and Toxopeus also hit double figures with 12 and 10 points respectively. Memorial's offense was dominated by Dalton and Fishbein who scored 21 and 19 points. Cape Breton held a 34-26 edge in rebounds while also hit 20 of 27 free throws to Memorials 11 of 15.

UNB 78 - St. Francis Xavier 58

As has become a common trend for them, the X-women got off to a fast start scoring the first basket and then forcing a five second violation on UNB's attempt to inbound the ball after the basket. X quickly built up a 12-4 lead with Kirsten Jones doing much of the early damage. The X-women had no trouble handling UNB's 1-2-1-1 zone press while applying their usual full court pressing and trapping against UNB's Corby sisters, Leah and Megan. Conference Rookie of the Year Claire Colborne and MVP Amanda Sharpe were non-factors for UNB in the opening period.

UNB's Varsity Reds found their legs in the second period as the game became a “run and gun” affair with both teams racing through each other's full court pressure for quick transition baskets. UNB's zone press started to take its toll as the X-Women inexplicably changed their press break tactics sending the ball up the sidelines in an effort to avoid traps instead of reversing the ball back to the middle where they had early success. UNB's guards starting tipping passes, forcing held balls, and eventually making clean steals off ill-advised X-Women passes. X coach Matt Skinn chose to allow his team to play through UNB's run rather than taking a timeout to stop the carnage that saw UNB going into the half with a commanding lead.

The X-Women never recovered their early game form as UNB remained the aggressor throughout the second half finishing with a comfortable 78-58 win booking their ticket to Sunday's championship final.

St. Francis Xavier 56 - Memorial 35

With a berth in next weekend's Eastern Regional at Carleton on the line, the AUS third place game pitted the St. FX X-Women against Memorial's Seahawks. Although both teams were playing their third game in three days, it was evident that the X-women had moved beyond their semi-final disappointment while MUN were perhaps still feeling the effects of their near miss against Cape Breton the night before.

The X-women seized the initiative with their smaller but more athletic posts Kirsten Jones and Donisha Young stepping out to hit several mid range jump shots. Memorial struggled offensively unable to convert a number of good looks from the paint on post feeds and dribble penetration. The Seahawks capably handled the full court pressure brought by X but were guilty of perhaps over-passing the ball turning down good shot opportunities and passing repeatedly from within the paint. During the second quarter, the X-women had offensive problems of their own as Memorial turned up their defensive intensity forcing the X-Women to primarily play on the perimeter. With the defenses holding the upper hand on both ends of the floor, the teams limped into the half-time break with X holding a 27-16 lead.

The game remained an offensive nightmare in the second half for both sides. However, the X-Women were able to take advantage of some timely offensive rebounding to manufacture points while their defense was able to force several Memorial turnovers that were converted into easy transition baskets. Seahawk's coach Doug Partridge cleared his bench with 7:12 remaining and his team trailing 52-29. The Memorial starters returned briefly but came out of the game for the final time with 3:17 to play allowing their younger players to gain some play-off exposure and experience.

In what proved to be a less than brilliant performance by either team, Memorial finished the game shooting 28.3% from field with 28 turnovers and taking a season low total of four free throws. The X-Women were marginally better offensively shooting only 34.8 from the field. The teams combined to shoot three for 20 from three point range. After her fast start, Kirsten Jones finished with a double-double on 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the X-Women. Brittany Dalton was the only Seahawk of note with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Cape Breton 65 - UNB 60

The 2011 AUS Championship game saw the UNB Varsity Reds jump out to an early double-digit lead despite receiving minimal offensive contributions from leading scorers Claire Colbourne and Amanda Sharpe. The veteran leadership of Leah and Megan Corby allowed the Reds to play with confidence despite the fact that the Cape Breton guards easily ran around and through UNB's zone press. After a relatively quiet semi-final outing against Memorial, Kari Everett was a much more assertive force offensively for the Capers providing ample support for Jahlica Kirnon's frequent forays to the hoop. The Capers closed the first period on a small run to take a 17-14 lead.

Capers post Denisha Haywood continued to dominate inside against a clearly frustrated Sharpe until late in the second quarter when Sharpe found her way to several baskets on some highly polished low post moves and mid-range jump shots. Claire Colbourne also started to find some success after being equally frustrated by a very physical defensive effort by the Capers' Nicole Works. Colbourne's fitness may have also been a factor in her slow start as she removed herself from the game on three different occasions. Both teams put on a display of solid, fundamental basketball and concluded the first half with Cape Breton holding a 31-26 lead despite some foul trouble that sent Kirnon to the bench with 5:35 to play in the half.

A well-played third period by both teams had Cape Breton up 47-44 going into the fourth, a lead the Capers managed to build to 10 points midway through the period behind the experience of championship veterans Everett and Kirnon. The last two minutes saw impressive execution by both teams amid frantic pressure by UNB as the Reds put on a final push in the last two minutes. Back to back three point shots by Leah Corby including one from deep in the corner off an inbounds play tied the game with less than 30 seconds remaining. After the Capers took a late timeout to try to end the game in regulation time, the Reds' bid to force was foiled by a missed call on a clear carry by Jahlica Kirnon who then drove to the hoop making the basket and drawing an intentional foul from Amanda Sharpe. Kirnon hit her free throw to complete the three point play and then added two more to seal the Capers' third consecutive AUS title.

Tournament All-Star Kirnon led the Capers with 17 points in the game backed up by Kari Everett's 16 and Denisha Haywood's 14 rebounds in 20 minutes of play. Everett duplicated her 2010 MVP performance being named tournament MVP for the second straight year. UNB's tournament All-Star duo of Amanda Sharpe and Leah Corby responded for the Reds with 20 and 18 points respectively with Sharpe also pulling down seven rebounds.
Dave Chafe lives in Newfoundland and played varsity basketball for the Memorial Seahawks.
Follow us on twitter @_sportstream_. Sporstream is the webcasting home of the Saint Mary's Huskies, Halifax Rainmen, and Metro Marauders.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

AUS Women`s Basketball Preview; Capers vs Reds today in NL.

Kari Everitt will be looking to close out her career with another AUS Championship.
(Photo Credit: T.J. Colello)
by Dave Chafe
The Cape Breton Capers enter the tournament with the opportunity to become the first school to win three consecutive championships since UNB's run of titles from 1990 to 1992. The Capers enter the tournament having won nine of their last 10 games including a decisive 74-60 win over fellow contender UNB to close the season giving them a split of their two game season series with the Varsity Reds. The Capers also split their season series with Memorial, while taking both games from the St. FX X-women and winning three of four against the St. Mary's Huskies.

The return of Kari Everett with her 17.6 and 6.1 rebounds per game along with the emergence of 6-2 Denisha Haywood as a dominant rebounder and interior defender sparked an 11-2 post-Christmas run for the Capers. Haywood joins fourth-year Stephanie Toxopeus to give the Capers one of the toughest interior post tandems in the conference. Everett is capably supported offensively by Jahlica Kirnon (15.3 ppg) and veteran Nicole Works (8.8 ppg). Despite some major losses from last season's roster including the graduation of perennial All-Star Kelsey Hodgson, the Capers remain an experienced, battle-tested team capable of bringing another AUS Championship back to Sydney.

UNB coach Jeff Speedy brings his most talented team to the play-offs seeking UNB's first title since the 1998-99 season. The Varsity Reds stormed out to a dominant first half with an 8-1 record that saw the team ranked as high as #5 in the CIS. The Reds boast the country's highest scoring offense at 82.0 points per game fuelled by their transition game, full court press, and the return of guard Leah Corby (14.4 ppg) for her final season of eligibility. Thriving in this offense along with Corby are stalwart post Amanda Sharpe (19.7 ppg/7.8 rpg) and likely conference Rookie of the Year Claire Colborne (18.6 ppg).

Coach Speedy's team lost some of its luster after the Christmas break as the team struggled through a three game losing streak in January and closed the season with decisive losses at St. FX (98-69) and Cape Breton (74-60). The 1-2-1-1 zone press that served the Reds so well during the first semester became less effective as teams adjusted to it and, after a stellar start to her rookie season, Colborne's productivity has tailed off of late as she draws more attention from defenders. Of particular concern to the Reds may be the difficulties they experienced against potential semi-final opponent St. FX who won three of four games from the Reds including 98-69 and 91-73 thrashings on the road.

Having just missed a first round tournament bye (five four point wins to six for UNB), the 14-6 St. FX X-women enter the AUS tournament capable of bringing a banner of their own to Antigonish matching their rugby counterparts. Although inconsistent at times, the X-Women finished with the fourth highest scoring offense in the CIS at 74.8 ppg. During those spans in which they struggle to score, their trademark pressure defense in both the full and half court enables the X-Women to remain competitive while also facilitating several impressive second half comebacks.

The X-Women roster includes four players averaging double figures in scoring including Kirsten Jones (11.0 ppg), post Donisha Young (11.2), Sheryl Chisholm (13.4), and fifth year senior Ashley Stephen (12.6 ppg). Aside from her offensive contributions, Stephen's rebounding (8.6), leadership, and perpetual hustle are invaluable to St. FX's frenetic, up-tempo style. Under-rated guard Victoria Anderson's on ball defense is also pivotal in spearheading the team's overall defense. If X can get by first round opponent St. Mary's, a team they swept in two competitive games during the season, they should enter a semi-final date with UNB brimming with confidence having taken three of four games from the Reds during the season.

Tournament hosts Memorial Seahawks will see their prospects of winning an eighth conference crown boosted by the home court advantage but whether or not the home court can overcome the team's inconsistency remains to be seen. The Seahawks profile includes wins over every other tournament team including splits with Cape Breton, St. FX, and first-round opponent Acadia to end the season last weekend in Wolfville. A win over the Axewomen could set up a semi-final game against Cape Breton with whom Memorial has combined to win 10 of the last conference titles including nine straight.

The Seahawks are lead by third year guard Grace Fishbein (16.7 ppg/6.0 rpg), post Ally Forsey (14.2 ppg/8.2 rpg), and senior guard Brittany Dalton (10.0 ppg/6.5 rpg). The trio of Fishbein, Forsey, and Dalton, who has battled a knee injury all season, hold the key to the Seahawk's fortunes and Dalton's ability to play through her injury will go a long way in determining if Memorial can hold serve at home.

After a 1-4 start to the season, coach Bev Greenlaw's fifth seeded Acadia Axewomen enter the play-offs having won seven of their last ten games. It is no coincidence that Acadia's second half surge occurred during a similar surge by forward Abbey Duinker (12.0 ppg/6.0 rpg) as she recovered from early season injury. At 6-3, Duinker is a defensive challenge due to her ability to battle in the post while also having the quickness and foot work to step out on the perimeter with range to the three point line. As good as Abbey has been, it is her sister Emma who is the main catalyst for the Axewomen leading the team in scoring (18.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.4rpg). Rookie Kristy Moore (13.2 ppg) gives Acadia a third offensive threat as the school seeks its first championship since winning the very first AUS women's basketball title at the end of the 1951-1952 season.

Taking advantage of a rebuilding season by both the Dalhousie Tigers and UEPI Panthers, the sixth-seeded St. Mary's Huskies have an opportunity to atone for a disappointing regular season if they can mirror last year's play-off run to the championship game. Having upset Memorial and then battling Cape Breton in the 2010 championship game, the Huskies were widely expected to ride the superb talent of second year guard Justine Colley to the top of the AUS standings this season. Colley lived up to expectations leading the CIS in scoring (25.8 ppg) and tying Kelsey Hodgson's AUS record for points in a single season. She also contributed 6.6 rebounds from the guard position while dishing out 100 assists. Colley's ability to penetrate is complimented by the shooting prowess of Robbi Daley (11.3 ppg) and post Susanne Canvin (12.2 ppg/10.5 rpg). Colley's wizardry and the post presence of UPEI transfer Canvin, the fourth leading rebounder in the CIS, could be enough to send the Huskies to another play-off upset or two (or three).

Dave Chafe lives in Newfoundland and played basketball for the Memorial Seahawks. Follow us on twitter _sportstream_.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Subway AUS Championships Team Profile: Dalhousie Tigers

AUS all stars Simon Farine and Joe Schow lead the Tigers into a highly anticipated match up with the X-Men on semi final Saturday at the Subway AUS Championships.
Seed at the Championships: Second
First Game: Semi Finals, Saturday Night at 8:15 versus Third Seed Saint Francis Xavier
Head Coach: John Campbell
Last AUS Championship: 2009
2010/11 Record: 14-6, 44 points.

Meet The Tigers

Key Players

Simon Farine- The fifth year senior averaged 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists a game in a season that would have garnered him an AUS MVP if it had been any other year than Joey Haywood of Saint Mary`s leading the nation in scoring.

Joe Schow - Second Team All star averaged a double double this season finishing with 15 points and 10 rebound per game. Schow is an aggressive scorer in the post and a tenacious competitor on both ends of the floor.

Stephen Lopez- Lopez blossomed after the Christmas break into the Tigers third leading scorer and their defensive stopper at the guard position. The Toronto native is prone to turnovers but his constant hustle was a driving force behind Dalhousie`s focused and determined effort down the stretch.


– The Tigers have three AUS Coaches of the Year on their staff. Head Coach John Campbell won his first this season, Assistant Coach Dave Nutbrown won six during his career at Acadia and Assistant Coach Thom Gillespie won the award twice at UNB in 2002 and 2004. Enough said.

Defence – No team in the AUS gets after it in half court man to man defence like the Tigers. Dalhousie finished first in points allowed per game with 68. Post players Sandy Veight and Schow rotate as well any tandem in the country, and expect to see at least three charge calls on the speedy X-Men.

Variety – The Tigers are able to put a lot of different lineups on the floor. Ideally they prefer a traditional 3 guard and 2 post lineup, but they have the diversity to go with a 4 out 1 in. They`ll even put 6`7`` Robert Nortman at centre and surround him with Simon Farine and three athletic swing men for a small but speedy five.

Simon Farine- The consummate floor leader. Farine seems to know exactly when to take charge and when to facilitate to teammates. Assuming he stays out of foul trouble, Farine will play start to finish and has several signature moves that are seemingly unstoppable.


Psyche – It would seem after going 3-1 vs. X and CBU this year that the Tigers have vanquished the ghosts of last season in which they lost every game to the X-Men and Capers by double digits. But if they fall behind by big numbers again, it will be interesting to see if they crumble or come back.

Toughness – Whether it`s fair or not, many AUS pundits feel that the Tigers still aren`t as gritty and mentally tough as the X-Men and Capers.

Tigers Notes

The Tigers held AUS opponents to under 40 percent shooting in the regular season.....we interviewed Head Coach John Campbell and he said the Tigers are completely healthy and ready to go for Semi Final Saturday......the Tigers have five 5th year seniors with Farine, Schow, Veight, Peter Leighton, and Jason Wang.....Dalhousie finished the season 8-1 over their last 9 games.....Tigers have beaten the X-Men twice during conference play but lost to the X-Men in the final of the Rod Shoveller Classic......newcomer Juleous Grant averaged 11 points per game and has one of the sweetest shooting strokes in the AUS.......Peter Leighton is shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc for the Tigers after playing four seasons at Acadia......Simon Farine`s assist to turnover ration is nearly 3:1 (90:36)......the Tigers will be looking for their second AUS championship in three years and the first for assistant coach Thom an attempt to match up with the athletic X-Men don’t be surprised to see a lot of Alex Arthur off the bench. Arthur had seen his playing time diminish in February but was recruited with the purpose of matching up with the athletes of X and CBU.....the Tigers were 3-1 vs. CBU and X this season. is the official webcaster of the Subway AUS Men`s Basketball Championships. Follow us on twitter @_sportstream_.

Matt Robertson Leads Underdog Chargers Versus Former Team

Matt Robertson will be taking on his former team this weekend at the ACAA Championships
by Brandon Wile
It only seems appropriate that Matt Robertson’s ACAA basketball career
could end against the team where it all began.

The fifth year centre for the Crandall University Chargers will take
on his former alma mater, the St. Thomas Tommies in the opening game
of the ACAA playoffs at Mount Saint Vincent University this weekend.

In his final year of eligibility, Robertson leads the underdog (6-15)
Chargers against the (14-7) Tommies in hopes of upsetting the school
which he called home for four years.

“My goals are simple, I want to win,” said Robertson when asked his
objective for the upcoming game.

The thought of playing against former teammates is something Robertson
uses as motivation rather than a deterrent to playing hard.

“It's really easy to get motivated playing against those guys because
of the relationships I have with them. You don't want to let them get
the best of you, because they'll never let you forget it. So these
games are for bragging rights.”

So far, Robertson and his Chargers haven’t had much to brag about in
regards to the Tommies as they have lost all three matchups this year.
After being blown out in the first game by 22, the Chargers made the
second and third meeting much closer losing by nine and ten

Robertson was a highly decorated member of the Tommies basketball team
for four years, where he received team MVP and all-conference honours
in 2009.

This time last year, Robertson wasn’t sure if he would ever play
basketball again at the ACAA level. His then Tommies were just knocked
out of the playoffs by the Holland College Hurricanes and he was
gearing up for graduating with a degree in journalism. By the time
Robertson decided to pursue an additional degree in education, St.
Thomas’ application deadline had already passed.

The Moncton, New Brunswick native was lucky enough to make the
deadline at Crandall, which allowed him to continue playing close to
home. The opportunity to further his education while continuing to
play basketball made the choice of leaving St. Thomas a little easier.

“It wasn't a tough decision at all. I knew it would be busy and I knew
it would be kind of weird having to play against STU, but I knew that
I would regret it if I didn't lace up the shoes for one more year.”

It’s been an up and down season for the Chargers as they snuck into
the playoffs with the sixth and final seed. The team only had nine
players at tryouts, one subsequently was dismissed for being
academically ineligible, dwindling the number to eight. However, the
low number of bodies is something Robertson attributes to being a
strong point of the team.

“When you only have eight [players], you have to be tight or else
you'll fall apart when the going gets tough. We've pushed through the
adversity and it's been an unforgettable year.”

An unforgettable year for a player who left an unforgettable footprint
on St. Thomas University which reached far beyond the hardwood.

Robertson was on first name basis with the schools President. He
received arguably St. Thomas’ highest honour, the John Frederick Walls
Award for community commitment, not once but twice. On top of all of
that, he was offered a recruiting job for the university after he

His reach in the St. Thomas community could be seen in late November
when Robertson made his return to the South Gym in Fredericton, this
time entering the visitors locker-room. He was greeted by cheers and
boos every time he touched the ball. The pressure may have gotten to
him as he had a less than stellar night.

“I was so nervous. Going back home in front of all my friends, playing
against all my ex-teammates. I stunk up the joint. I shot like 2-14,”
Robertson joked.

As the season progressed, Robertson became more comfortable against
his old team. Game two saw him get a double-double with 18 points and
10 rebounds, while he added 16 points in the third game.

Being one of the veteran leaders, Robertson hopes his experience and
strong post presence will help lead the undermanned Chargers over the
Tommies and make a deep playoff run.

Robertson admits that he will always be a Tommie at heart, but when
he goes for the opening tip Friday, he will put aside the memories of
his four years at St. Thomas, the friendships that he made and the
times he’s worn the green and gold. All that will be on his mind is
knocking out the school he used to call home.

ACAA men’s and women’s basketball playoffs takes place March 4,5,6 at
Mount Saint Vincent University.

Brandon Wile lives in Halifax and is a local writer and broadcaster. Follow us on twitter @_sportstream_.

Subway AUS Championships Team Profile: Saint Francis Xavier X-Men

2nd Team All Star Will Silver has been a rock this year for the inconsistent X-Men.
Seed at the Championships: Third
First Game: Quarter Finals, Friday Night at 8:15 versus Sixth Seed Saint Mary's
Head Coach: Steve Konchalski
Last AUS Championship: 2006
2010/11 Record: 15-5, 38 points.

Meet The X-Men

Key Players

Christian Upshaw
- First team all star and AUS MVP in 2009 and 2010. Averaged 19 points, five assists, and 2 steals a game.

Will Silver – Second Team All star is one of the best defensive players in the country and is the player who really creates tempo for the X-Men. Had a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio in regular season and averages five rebounds a game from the point guard position.

Charlie Spurr – Fifth year senior and electrifying three point shooter averaged 12 points a games and shot 46 percent from beyond the arc. Has the ability to hit multiple three pointers in succession and in a short time period, often providing the impetus for an X-Men comeback.


Christian Upshaw
– Without a doubt the X-Factor of the tournament. Has seemed distracted at times this season and has had off court issues. However, if Upshaw is focused and ready for this weekend, he could easily be the most dominating player at the Metro Centre and propel the X-Men to run the table.

Full Court Game – No team in the AUS can create havoc with full and half court pressure like the X-Men. When they get it going it seems like they have six people on the floor.

Experience – The X-Men have four players in their fifth year including Silver and Upshaw who will be playing in their fifth AUS tournament and looking for their first AUS Championship.


– The X-Men are suffering from injuries to significant players heading in to Friday. Gone for the season is Alberto Rodriguez after suffering a sinus injury at Memorial. Fifth year senior Dwayne Johnson is battling a back injury, and solid bench player Chad Warren is day to day with an injury. There are rumours that even the super sophomore guard Jordan Clarke is battling an injury.

Chemistry – Hard to believe we're talking about this issue with the X-Men but the team just hasn't quite seemed themselves this season. There have been glimpses of that characteristic X-Men swagger and grit at times, specifically the Rod Shoveller championship on New Year's and their comeback win at the Tower versus SMU, but for most of the season the X-Men just haven't seemed all on the same page.

Christian Upshaw – Upshaw's bizarre mental absence from several games this season has been puzzling to fans and pundits. If Upshaw mentally checks out of a game this weekend and doesn't get involved, the X-Men won't have much of a chance against Dal or CBU, let alone SMU.

X-Men Notes

The X-Men place in the upper tier of 17 of 19 overall statistical categories. Their lowest placement is fifth (defensive rebounding and three point defence)......the X-Men have been nationally ranked all season long, many weeks ahead of CBU and Dalhousie despite trailing them in the AUS standings..........As incredible a back court as Upshaw and Silver have been throughout their five year careers, they still do not have an AUS Championship.....Jeremy Dunn averaged 13 points and five rebounds this season and has the best shot fake in the conference......First year sensation Terry Thomas ( 11ppg) has emerged as one of the most exciting players in the AUS with his dynamic athleticism. Expect a couple of highlight dunks this weekend from Thomas.....Sportstream would like to extend congratulations to Alberto Rodriguez for an outstanding career. The fifth year senior suffered a career ending injury at Memorial and will not be on the Metro Centre floor this weekend. Alberto was a consistent starter for the X-Men who you could pencil in for at least 10 points and 7 rebounds a game. His athleticism and speed at the center position created match up problems for coaches and havoc for opponents in the AUS..... The X-Men defeated SMU twice this season, 97-84 in Antigonish and 93-92 at the Tower.....St FX is 0-4 this season versus Dal and CBU is the official webcaster of the Subway AUS Men`s Basketball Championships. Follow us on twitter @_sportstream_.