Special night for seniors as basketball teams end home schedule
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams ended their home season and have their eyes set towards the playoffs after each playing two games this past week.
It is an exciting time for basketball around the Laurier campus, as both Golden Hawks teams were able to clinch a playoff spot recently and honoured their seniors at their final home game on Friday night.
Both teams were in action at the Athletic Complex on Wednesday and Friday night as the McMaster Marauders and Brock Badgers’ basketball programs visited Waterloo for the first time this year.
Coach Paul Falco and the women’s team played the early game, while Coach Justin Serresse and the men’s team capped the nights off with two highly entertaining games.
Coach Falco and the women’s team were looking to find some offensive consistency this past week but knew the opponents were tough.
McMaster is the reigning national champions and Brock was ranked eigth in the country coming into the game.
Laurier was also looking for revenge against the Badgers as they were eliminated from the playoffs last year with a loss to Brock.
The first matchup on Wednesday was an uphill battle for the women on the Golden Hawks team.
Laurier was losing for most of the game but kept the contest close deep into the third quarter. McMaster then capitalized on some Laurier mistakes and opened the game up with a 17-4 run to finish the quarter.
On a night where Laurier’s offense shot less then 30 per cent from the field and from three-point range, they were not able to convert on enough shots to pull off the comeback.
The setback for Laurier led into a fun Friday night matchup against the nationally ranked Badgers team.
Coach Falco was able to get the most out of his players, as the team put up 70 points, which was their third highest scoring performance this season.
In an intense fast-paced game both teams traded points up and down the court.
Rookie Kate Moran for the Golden Hawks was able to put together one of the best performances of her career as she scored a career high 22 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Moran hit on a few clutch three-point shots in the third to provide some much needed momentum to the Golden Hawks team while at times looking dominant.
After leading by six points going into the fourth, Laurier was not able to put together a complete quarter and only scored six points in the pivotal final frame. Brock was able to outscore Laurier 23-6 in the final quarter and win the game 80-71, handing the Golden Hawks women’s team their third straight loss.
When asked about the tough Brock team, Coach Falco mentioned their star point guard- Melissa Tatti.
“Their fifth-year point guard is one of the best players in the OUA. As a team they play hard and Tatti is just so good at creating her own shots and creating shots for her teammates,” Coach Falco said after the game.
Tatti who leads the OUA in scoring was unmatched on Friday night and at times un-guardable as she scored 34 points, showcasing her supreme talent.
Laurier also honoured senior Rachel Woodburn at halftime, as she played in her final home game as a Golden Hawk. Woodburn ranks top-10 in both all-time steals and assists with the Laurier basketball program.
“We will definitely miss Rachel, she is a great team player who has always been committed and is a big part of what we do… it will be big shoes to fill,” said Coach Falco in regards to the void left behind with Rachel leaving.
The team now sits at a record of 9-12 with one game left against Waterloo in what has been a rollercoaster season.
For Coach Justin Serresse and the men’s basketball team they were looking for one more win to clinch their spot in the playoffs.
On Wednesday, Laurier hosted the Marauders who have been eliminated by Laurier in the last two post-seasons.
In an entertaining and tightly contested matchup, the two teams remained neck and neck with each other for most of the game.
Laurier was able to receive contributions from all over their lineup, as they were able to put up their highest scoring game and best offensive performance of the season.
While losing in the fourth quarter Laurier got hot and started shooting lights out.
The duo of Matt Minutillo and Romello Taylor led the Golden Hawks on the strength of the three-point shot.
Taylor was able to knock down four three pointers in the quarter, while Minutillo was able to score on three.
The three three-point shots by Minutillo brought his game total to five three-pointers matching his career high.
Minutillo was also able to score his career high in points on Wednesday in one of his final games at the Athletic Complex as he led the Golden Hawks with 25 points.
A 34-point fourth quarter by the Golden Hawks led them to a 104-93 victory and clinched their ticket to the playoffs once again.
With 12 rebounds and yet another double-double, Kemel Archer was able to mark his spot in the Laurier record books as he became the single-season rebound record holder with over 200 rebounds on the season.
With the playoffs clinched, Coach Serresse and the team focused their attention on two more wins and the ability to host a home playoff game.
A tough Brock defense and a team that Laurier has never beat under Coach Serresse provided a tough challenge.
After Laurier surrendered their 10-point lead in the first half, Brock was up by 10 heading into the fourth quarter.
Once again, the Golden Hawks fought back and were able to have the ball in their hand on the final possession of the game with a chance to force the game into overtime.
With just over 14 seconds left, Ali Sow and Matt Minutillo had a chance to hit the three-point shot to tie the game, however they just missed, and Laurier lost in heartbreaking fashion 76-73 to Brock.
“Brock is a good team, they had the whole week to prepare and we played a tough game on Wednesday, so our guys may have been a bit tired,” Coach Serresse admitted post-game.
“I thought it was just a lack of execution at times, we missed a lot of open shots. Basketball is a game of high and lows, but our lows are a little bit too low right now and I’ve been telling the guys that,” Serresse further stated.
Ali Sow led the way for the Golden Hawks as he scored 28 points including four threes, but the focus of the game was on Matt Minutillo and Kemel Archer who were playing in their final home games with the team.
Both Archer and Minutillo were honoured pre-game as they are graduating following this season.
Kemel Archer has cemented his legacy with over 500 rebounds during his four years with the team, while Minutillo has consistently improved in his time with the team and scored a career high 25 points the game before.
Coach Serresse was joyous when discussing the careers and legacies left behind by both Archer and Minutillo.
“I am so proud of what they were able to achieve here. They are both incredible people and helped the culture here. Matt is a bright, professional and reliable kid as is Kemel. We are going to miss that much more then their skillset,” said Coach Serresse.
“I can’t emphasize enough how great these two young men are. They were leaders, mentors and big brothers and I’m very excited to have them for at least two more games,” Coach Serresse continued.
Coach Serresse also mentioned that he believes both players have an extraordinarily bright future in their professional life journey.
Currently the team holds a 10-11 record and have one more game left in the regular season.
This Saturday, the Hawks will play Waterloo in the final regular season game.
The team will then hit the road for the playoffs, hoping to recreate the magical run that the team went on last year.
Both the men’s and women’s teams will travel down the road to play the Waterloo Warriros this weekend, with the women playing the first game at 6pm and the men playing the nigh cap at 8pm.
After the games on Saturday, both of Laurier’s teams will await the announcement from the OUA which will announce thier first round playoff date, location and matchup.