Sow dominates as Golden Hawks head into Christmas break splitting their series against Windsor
“We need to focus on getting healthy, both mentally and physically.”
Coach Justin Serresse and the Golden Hawks men’s basketball team finished their calendar year, splitting two games against the Windsor Lancers this past week.
After starting the season 0-2 with two lopsided losses against the undefeated fifth ranked Brock Badgers, the Golden Hawks have played much better basketball over the past two weekends. Laurier used an all-around performance last weekend against Lakehead to win the first game by 26 points before losing the second night of a back-to-back. Similarly, the purple and gold dominated Windsor this past week, winning their first game on the road by 37 points before losing the home matchup against the Lancers this past Saturday.
The Golden Hawks will enter the holidays with a 2-4 record, sitting in seventh place in the nine team OUA West division – two points back of their previous opponents, Windsor and Lakehead.
All-Canadian and two-time OUA All-star, Ali Sow has started the season on fire, averaging 27.3 points, two steals and nearly five assists per game. The President’s award winner ranks second in USPORTS in scoring and is top ten in the country in nearly all offensive categories, while also averaging 36 minutes per game – first in the OUA.
The fourth-year superstar guard from Ottawa has made 19 three pointers in six games and has scored over 25 points in five of the team’s six games this year. Following two 30-point games in the past week against Windsor, Sow was recognized as the OUA player of the week as well as being named Laurier Player of the Week for the 13th time in his career.
Sow was the driving force last Wednesday leading the Golden Hawks to a 110-73 victory over the Lancers in Windsor. Laurier recorded a season high in points, putting forth an incredible offensive performance while draining 17 shots from beyond the arc that night – the highest total in the OUA this year.
Laurier had seven players in double-digits that night, as a six-point lead at halftime turned into a 19-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Rookies Kareem Elliot and Ethan Passley scored career highs in the purple and gold with 18 and 12 points respectively.
Ali Sow led the way, making six three pointers, dropping 31 points with 8 rebounds and 10 assists. The 10 assists marked a career-high for Sow, while recording his third career double-double.
As was the case the previous week, the opposing team adjusted on the second night of the back-to-back as Windsor was able to defeat Laurier 90-84 in Waterloo on Saturday. While Laurier was able to win the first game of the series handily, the reduced 16-game OUA schedule, featuring back-to-back games against their eight division opponents has led to competitive results across the province.
Coaches have made adjustments throughout the season as the intensity has picked up and the players have responded after playing the same team in two consecutive games.
Laurier fell behind by 21 points after halftime this past Saturday in what was their final game before the Christmas break. Kitchener native Telloy Simon made seven three pointers, while scoring a game-high 30 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in front of his friends and family who were in attendance at the athletic complex. Star forward Thomas Kennedy recorded 26 points on a highly efficient 75% shooting, as both players improved on their performances from the first game and led the Lancers to their third victory on the season.
“He’s a tough shot maker and we knew that his pull up three in rhythm and off the bounce was what he loves,” Coach Serresse said of Simon. Serresse has known both Simon and Kennedy for several years and was proud of their success, despite his team losing the game.
“I love them as kids, they’re both exceptional players and it’s always a pleasure to coach against them, even when they play that well,” Serresse said. “I’m happy for them, it’s beyond the game,” he continued.
Laurier was able to cut into the lead in the third and had the game within three points in the fourth quarter, while ultimately losing by six points. Coach Serresse was proud of his team’s battle and “selfishly” excited in the final frame, while knowing that his group needed to come out of the gate with better energy.
“We shouldn’t put ourselves that deep and down in the hole in the first place” Coach Serresse said. “Selfishly I kind of love those moments because it’s really where you get to be strategic in your coaching and be a better tactical and technical coach,” he continued. Recounting some of the pivotal timeout calls, fouls and other moments down the stretch that he says the team and coaching staff will look back on and improve on throughout the season.
Balanced scoring remained a problem for the Golden Hawks in their final game of the year as Sow, Taylor and Elliot were the only Laurier players in double-digits. KJ Massela after suffering an injury in the Lakehead series joined Ismael Sow and a few other newcomers on the bench as they continue to recover from injuries. This limited the depth of Coach Serresse’s team as a result.
Sow has scored more than double of any other players on the Golden Hawks team. Laurier’s offense however has been a positive sign as they lead the country in shots from beyond the arc, making ten three pointers per game. In addition, they also rank in the top half of the OUA due to them averaging 88 points per game.
“When we play well, we play with pace, but we don’t rush offensively and take what the defense is giving us,” Coach Serresse said.
Oppositely, Laurier is bottom ten in the country, allowing 87 points per game- something that Coach Serresse will surely be focusing on during the break. “Defensively, we just have a lot of work to do, to be honest, there is just too many mistakes on a lot of different situations,” he said.
After splitting their past two series, Laurier will enter the new year with a 2-4 record as they get set to face the nationally ranked Western Mustangs for their first two games of 2022. Laurier will face the Mustangs for the first time since losing in the OUA Semi-finals in London in heartbreaking fashion two years ago.
“We need to stay in shape or get even stronger. I told the guys to get stronger, faster and better during the break,” Coach Serresse said.
“School, mental health, and physical health is most important and us as coaches are going to use this time to digest what went well and what didn’t go well, focusing on how to get better,” he said.