First of all, for those who access my articles via Facebook, I just discovered that the link between my posts and Facebook was disconnected – small technical error by my IT department; it has been reconnected and readers may find the following three pieces on conference all-stars interesting so I am posting links to them:
No one does it better than Wayne Thomas over at Canada West Hoops. He has extensive coverage of this weekend’s first-round series, two of which went to 3 games including one (Thompson Rivers over Brandon) in which the visiting team won the series – to my re-collection, this is only the second? time in Canada West history in which a visiting team has won a Best-of-3 – but I stand to be corrected.
As well, this site will not be publishing Canada West all-star selections. I have only watched about a dozen or so CW games this season and am hardly in a position to evaluate the 17-teams and thus do not consider myself opinionated enough to offer one. I am looking forward to Canada West playoffs this weekend and Final 4 as well as the two teams that come out of the conference – expect the top teams to compete well at the Final 8 in Halifax.
Here are some random thoughts from the weekend:
Lethbridge sweeps Victoria… In what some may regard as an upset, the hometown Horns, supported by crowds of 1,000+ on both nights, swept the Vikes, coming back in game two after UVic had all the answers early and controlled much of the game. With Lethbridge’s Colton Gibb turning it up with strong on-the-ball “d” and Dejan Burdeaux jumping passing lanes, the Pronghorns turned the deciding game around with a 20-2 run in about a five minute span in the 4th quarter, holding Vikes to 1-6 from the field and creating 5 turnovers. The tough, spunky Gibb defended well the entire series while Burdeaux continued to show he is one of the most underrated defenders in the entire country. In the first game, Lethbridge got into a rhythm against the Vikes exclusively-zone “d” (something I don’t think I would ever see Vic coach Craig Beaucamp play given how historically well he has taught and implemented his man-to-man defense). The result was Horns knocked down 16 of 32 threes as a team including a 9-13 effort from 6’4″ Michael Pierzchala (31 points) and 6’6″ Elliot Sentance (5-9 threes, 21 points). Lethbridge, which now travels to Edmonton to meet #3 seeded Alberta Golden Bears, can be a dangerous team with how they defend and riding the hot hand of Burdeaux, who had 34 points, 12 rebounds and 6 steals in the finale.
Manitoba sweeps Regina… Cougars gave Bisons a run in the first half of the first game but Bisons pulled away and then watched as Manitoba grabbed a high-double digit lead early and coasted to the sweep. Bisons now take on #4 UBC, well rested having played their most recent prior game all the way back on 4th February. Thunderbirds are contending with an injury (high ankle sprain) to their All-Canadian-favorite forward 6’9″ Conor Morgan.
Thompson Rivers comes back to beat Brandon… Facing elimination after a game one loss on the road, WolfPack clawed back with solid defensive efforts to win by 32 and 13. Thompson Rivers travels to Calgary to face #1 seed Dinos in a Best-of-3 beginning on Thursday night.
Winnipeg holds off Fraser Valley in three games… Wesmen, on the brink at least twice in the series, showed resiliency in defeating the Cascades with a decisive game 3 win. Down 13 entering the 4th quarter of game one, 6’4″ Denzel Lynch-Blair injected 10 of his team-high 23 points as Wesmen clamped down defensively to grab the lid-lifter. Cascades scorching-hot wing Manny Dulay then put his stamp on game two – going 7 for 7 from three point land as UFV won by 7. Saturday’s rubber match was over midway through the third after a 23-6 Winnipeg run broke the game open. Winnipeg travels to Saskatoon for a Best-of-three with #2 seeded Saskatchewan this coming weekend.
Four very good quarter-final series in Canada West:
Thompson Rivers at Calgary
Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
Lethbridge at Alberta
Manitoba at UBC.