Waterloo 84, Windsor 66… Excitement is back at Waterloo’s PAC as on Senior’s Day this afternoon an energized crowd, rekindling memories of Warrior’s mid-80’s Nationals contending teams, witnessed three freshmen continue to mature in front of their eyes as the Warriors climbed closer to an OUA playoff spot with a decisive win over the Lancers. The win was Waterloo’s third consecutive as coach Justin Gunter has his group playing their very best down the stretch of the season. 6’5″ freshman Justin Hardy led the way with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists while fellow 6’1″ freshman Simon Petrov, held in check for the first three quarters, had 12 of his 14 points down the stretch including a couple of clutch 3’s over bigger defenders late in the game. Windsor made a third quarter run that got the game back to within 4, but Waterloo was equal to every Lancers run and 6’5″ Nedim Hodzic put the exclamation mark on the afternoon with a thunderous two-handed slam in traffic with about 3 minutes remaining to bring the house down and end it for all intents and purposes. Hodzic (16 points, 12 rebounds) was also key in the second half, making a pair of foul line jumpers as he found open spots in the Lancer zone and slashing and spinning to the rim. Lancers, playing without 6’3″ Mitch Farrell, got their usual strong effort from 5’10” Mike Rocca (20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) as well as solid offensive performances from 6’2″ Micqueel Martin (16 points including an emphatic two-handed slam early in the fourth but just 1-9 from 3) and 6’7″ Luke Allin (17 points) but Warriors were completely worthy of the win and, at present, are playing like a legitimate playoff team. Given that our RPI guru Martin Timmerman was courtside this afternoon, his wonderful RPI standings have not yet been updated but expect the Warriors to potentially now sit in a playoff position with this victory over a higher-ranked opponent. Waterloo finishes their schedule next Friday night at Lakehead and then Saturday night at Guelph.
Western 88, Laurier 65… The young, re-tooling Mustangs are also finishing the season strong, their latest effort a solid road shellacking of the Golden Hawks right in Waterloo. 6’1″ Omar Shiddo, another great newcomer in this season’s stellar OUA freshman class, had 21 of his career-high 36 points in the second quarter when a 32-10 run gave Mustangs a 17 point lead. Shiddo had three “and 1’s” including 8 points during a 12-0 stretch. Later Western held the Hawks scoreless for over 5 minutes in the fourth quarter, authoring a 16-0 run that allowed Mustangs to build leads as large as 28 late. Golden Hawks are firmly in the playoffs and Western is finishing strong although not likely to have enough to move into playoff contention. Western finishes with a pair of home games next week against Brock on Wednesday and McMaster next Saturday afternoon.
We will have more on the playoff chances for both Waterloo and Western later tonight.