Thunderwolves ousted from basketball playoffs
By Gary Moskalyk
It was a heartbreaker for the Lakehead University Thunderwolves men’s basketball team at the Thunderdome Wednesday night in Ontario men’s basketball quarter-final playoff action.
Quinn Henderson of the University of Western Mustangs hit a three-pointer with 24.4 seconds left to erase a 65-63 LU lead, the Mustangs sank a couple of shots from the free-throw line to increase the margin, and LU’s Dwayne Harvey’s Hail Mary shot fell short as Western pulled out a 68-65 win before a subdued Thunderwolves crowd.
The Thunderwolves led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, and led by five with about two minutes to go, but couldn’t maintain the lead.
“We kind of fell apart in the fourth quarter,” said LU head coach Matt Erdman. “We took some shots that were kind of careless. . . I think the guys tried to do the right thing. Sometimes, they overtried.”
The Mustangs took a 34-31 lead into halftime, but the Thunderwolves used a big third quarter to build the 10-point cushion.
“I’m really, really proud of these guys,” a downcast Erdman offered. “I think if you would have asked a lot of the people at the start of the year if we would have hosted a playoff game with this group of guys, I’m not sure a lot of people would have bet a lot of money on that. I’m proud of the way these guys worked. Guys were in new roles. We’re going to be better than this next year.”
The Thunderwolves had a 9-13 regular season record, while Western had an 8-14 log.
Western had five players hit double digits in points, led by Greg Morrow with 14, George Johnson 13, Henderson and Peter Scholtes with 12 each, and Rashayne Case with 10.
All five of those players were plus-30 in minutes played.
Jamar Coke led the LU attack with 15, Igor Lebov had 12, and Anthony McIntosh had 10.
Alex Robichaud played 38 of 40 minutes, while Coke tallied 31.
“It was tough,” said Coke. “Dwayne (Harvey) got in early foul trouble. He’s the key to our offence. He sets guys up, he gets into the paint.
“It kind of took us out of our rhythm a bit. A couple of guys came off the bench and stepped up, and we were playing to them, but we just let it go in the end.
“That’s one thing we’ve been focusing on all year, transition, finding guys. No. 8 (Henderson) was one of the guys we talked about before the game. We just couldn’t find him and he knocked down a big shot.”
A 10-point fourth quarter was LU’s undoing, according to Erdman.
“Our staple has always been defence. We only gave up 66 points (68 on Wednesday). I think we’d take that on any night. We just didn’t score. We only had 10 points in the fourth quarter.”
The young Thunderwolves gained a lot of experience through the year and look to have a foundation to build on next campaign.
“We basically had a brand new team this year,” said Coke. “At the start of the year we knew it was going to be rough. We had to gel really, we had to gel first. We were almost there, we just came up too short.”
In OUA women’s basketball quarter-final playoff action, Danielle Boiago and Vanessa Bonomo combined for 29 points to lead the McMaster Mauraders to a 68-44 victory over the Lakehead University Thunderwolves.
Hailey Milligan chipped in with 11 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for McMaster.
Jylisa Williams of Lakehead was the game’s high scorer with 17 points.