Season over for WLU men’s basketball
Saturday night ended in heartbreak for Laurier fans as the Golden Hawks’ men’s basketball team lost the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semi-finals to the Windsor Lancers 87-79.
The Lancers, who are ranked first in the OUA west and seventh in Canada, will go on to face the Lakehead Thunderwolves in the OUA west championships this weekend.
“It’s a disappointing finish,” said Laurier head coach Peter Campbell. “I thought we were good enough to win the league. We’re a better basketball team than how we played tonight and I think we’re a better basketball team than we achieved.”
Though many of the players were visibly upset, they can be proud as this is the farthest the team has advanced in the playoffs since the 2005-06 season, where they finished in fourth place in the OUA and went on to participate in nationals.
“It’s an achievement to win a playoff game,” said Travis Berry, Hawks’ guard and leading scorer of the evening with 18 points. “But it’s not the ultimate achievement.”
“We wanted to be at nationals. We felt that we were good enough to win our conference this year, so anything other than that is a let down.”
Despite the loss, the Hawks battled hard throughout the entire game. The score reflected their efforts; it was tied at 45 at the half. Though in the second half the purple and gold continued to rebound well and play strong defensively, their shots just weren’t falling.
Meanwhile, Windsor forward Isaac Kuon “did what he does,” said Laurier’s fifth-year captain Jesse MacDonald.
“He’s their prime-time guy and a first team all-star,” MacDonald continued. “In the third quarter, he just took over the game and we couldn’t match them.”
MacDonald, one of the Hawks’ team leaders, had a second rivalry that night, as he was also battling an ankle injury.
“I definitely wasn’t at 100 per cent, but no excuses,” he said. “It’s not like they’re going to give us a break because I have a bad ankle and we can’t play like that. Everyone just needed to step their game up, and for the first half we did, but we just ran out of gas.”
This was MacDonald’s last game at Laurier. He reached a career total of over 1,000 points in regular season play, but what he is going to remember most is his teammates.
“We did a lot of winning and losing, but I won’t remember every game as much as I’ll remember who I played with and all the great times we had.”
Travis Berry mirrored MacDonald’s enjoyment, stating, “The best part of the season was playing basketball with the guys. They’re my best friends.”
Though the play began to slow as the game reached its final minute and the Lancers held a 10-point lead, Campbell encouraged his team to keep playing hard and not to pay attention to the clock.
“You’ve got to compete until the battle’s over,” he said. “If you learn anything from playing a sport, you should learn that you’ve got to give it everything you’ve got until the game is done. Whatever happens happens and you’ve got to live with that, but if you quit somewhere in the process you’ve got to live with something much worse than that.”