Manitoba (9-9) 86, Alberta (17-3) 78... Most forecasters across the country had Manitoba Bisons in the pre-season Top 10/CW championship discussion. However, an uneven exhibition effort followed by a treacherous start to the Canada West regular season – 8 of Bisons ten CW games before Christmas were against Top 10 or last season’s Final 4 teams – had prognosticators second guessing their initial picks. Consider the Bisons on the road back to the championship discussion after last night’s important win over Alberta Golden Bears in the championship of the 50th Wesmen Classic at Winnipeg. Bisons win somewhat-offsets Alberta’s sweep of the Bisons in Winnipeg last month. Producing another dominant defensive effort, Bisons 6’4″ Keith Omoerah (10 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) copped his second consecutive tournament MVP award, doing a stellar job making life difficult for Bears star 6’7″ wing Mamadou Gueye while Manitoba also got a sterling effort at both ends from 6’3″ Justus Alleyn who was primarily tasked with guarding Alberta’s emerging 6’1″ point guard Austin Waddoups and Alleyn was generally equal to the task, denying the slick scoring point the ball and not allowing open penetration. Bisons are also much better now that 6’7″ Joey Nitychoruk is providing a consistent effort off the bench – the long, active forward who transferred back home from Lakehead is creative around the rim, runs the floor well and provides solid work defending and rebounding. Nitychoruk was named a tournament all-star. Alberta’s 6’8″ Brody Clarke shook off a tough start to finish with 21 points and 9 rebounds for Alberta which found it difficult to defeat a solid Bisons team three times within a month away from home. Alleyn finished with 22 points on 7-10 shooting including 3-5 from three while 5’11” A.J. Basi knocked down three early 3’s and finished with 12 points for Manitoba. But Omoerah’s work defending and rebounding (established tournament records for rebounds in a game in the semi-final and most total rebounds over 3 games) set the tone for a Bisons team looking to recapture a path to a long, fruitful post season.