Hawks handle Guelph Gryphons in OUA West quarterfinal
You’d think Jack Simmons had played an Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoff game before.
The rookie, who played in his first career playoff game Wednesday night, missed no strides and came out flying with his veteran teammates Max Allin and Will Coulthard to help lead the Wilfrid Laurier men’s basketball game to a 94-83 victory over the Guelph Gryphons.
With the win, the Hawks move on to travel down highway 401 to meet with the Windsor Lancers in the OUA West semifinal on Saturday.
But Simmons, a 6’8” rookie, seemed like he’d been in this situation many times before.
He put up 21 points — almost matching his career high — and four rebounds in 25 minutes of playing time.
“If we can push the ball and run the ball, Max and Will get a lot of shots, which opens up my shots,” Simmons said. “So when those guys are playing well, I get a lot of shots — easy layups, easy dunks — which makes it easy on me.”
After finishing third in the OUA West, Laurier hosted the Gryphons in the first round to see who would have a date with the Lancers in the second round.
Laurier came out flying and never slowed down despite a very aggressive, foul-filled game.
“We expected it,” Simmons said. “We knew it was going to be a chippy game, especially in the playoffs and probably a little bit dirtier than normal even. We just knew that we had to keep our composure out there for the whole fourth quarter.”
After a deadlocked first quarter at 18 apiece, Laurier came out with an explosive second quarter where they put up 30 points and only allowed 18. They carried that into that half before adding 25 more points in the third to spread the lead.
Despite a lack of defence in the fourth quarter that allowed the Gryphons a bit of breathing room, the gap was too big for Guelph to make a run back and sealed the Hawk victory.
Guelph’s Zachary Angus finished with 23 points and five rebounds in his final game of the season.
In his final home game of his five-year career, Allin put up another impressive finish, playing in all forty minutes and posting a double double of 23 points and 13 rebounds.
“It was nice. We needed that,” Allin said. “We worked too hard all year to get the third spot and throw it away like that. We couldn’t do that and we’re ready for Saturday.”
“Going out on a good note like this is a good finish.”
Laurier now regroups and plans to play the second-place Lancers Saturday at 4 p.m. In order for the Hawks to compete with one of the only two teams that finished above .500 in the OUA West, they’ll need to follow a strict game plan.
“We’ve got to compete, we’ve got to hit our shots, we’ve got to knock it down at the free-throw line and we’ve just got to go and play fearless,” Allin said.