Disheartened Timberwolves finish fifth
They entered the tournament as the top ranked team, and wanted to finish in that position.
The UNBC Northern Timberwolves had that opportunity taken away from them in the semifinals of the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association men’s basketball national championships in Truro, N.S. Friday’s 78-71 semifinal loss to the eventual champions of the eight-team tournament, the Mohawk College Mountaineers of Hamilton, Ont., extinguished the Timberwolves’ gold medal hopes. The Mountaineers captured the CCAA championship banner on Saturday with an 88-73 triumph over Calgary’s Mount Royal University Cougars.
Not even 48 hours after a 23-point victory in last Thursday’s opening round gave the Timberwolves a promising start, they completed their tournament schedule with a 1-2 record after an uninspired defeat. Their final game was a 74-62 loss to the St. Thomas University Tommies on Saturday, a contest the Timberwolves entered knowing they could finish no better than bronze.
“We had to come back just over 12 hours (after the loss to Mohawk College) and play in that 10 o’clock game the next day. We definitely didn’t put our best product on the floor,” Timberwolves head coach Todd Jordan said. “A lot of that had to do just with the guys, emotionally and physically, were just so spent from what happened the night before that it was just hard to come out and generate the energy that we needed to the next day.”
The same squad UNBC defeated, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference’s Red Deer College Kings, rebounded from the 88-65 first-game defeat with a pair of wins to meet the Tommies in Saturday’s bronze medal final. The Tommies outscored the Kings 75-68 to take third place.
The Timberwolves ended up in a fifth-place tie with the Indiens d’Ahuntsic of Quebec. The seventh-place Vanier College Cheetahs (Quebec) and eighth-place Mount St. Vincent University Mystics (Halifax, N.S.) also entered the competition.
In their game on Friday, the Mountaineers outscored the Timberwolves 29-21 in the third quarter to take a 66-55 lead. Trying to mount a late comeback, the Timberwolves had open looks, but missed the target on crucial shots.
“We went a little cold there, especially at the end of the fourth quarter,” Jordan said. “We had some good looks, it just wouldn’t drop for us.”
For the majority of their game against Mohawk College, the Timberwolves had to battle without the services of second-year forward Kevan Madsen, who got scratched in the eye at the beginning of the second quarter and sat out the remainder of the game.
“We just got a little bit unlucky there, but Mohawk played hard, they’re a tough team,” Jordan said. “They beat us fair and square and they definitely deserve their national championship.”
Among the award winners honoured after the final game, UNBC fourth-year guard Sam Raphael was selected to the tournament’s second all-star team.
“He’s a lockdown guy and he does a heck of a job,” Jordan said of Raphael. “He rebounds for us. He does little things that need to be done.”
With the 2011-12 campaign over, the focus turns to the next season, UNBC’s first as a member of the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. The Timberwolves will begin competing in the Canada West branch of Canadian Interuniversity Sport in September.
The identification camp for the men’s team is slated for March 30 and 31.