Men's basketball split GPRC series
For the second consecutive weekend, the MacEwan University men’s basketball team was unable to convert their opening game victory, dropping their second game in the home and home series that cumulated Saturday at MacEwan’s City Centre Campus gym.
Playing the Grande Prairie Wolves in a home and home matchup, on Friday the Griffins sprint out to the early lead, building a 24-16 lead after the first quarter of action. The fast and athletic Griffins would go on to outscore the Wolves in the next three quarters of play, to win the game convincingly by a score of 93-69.
Third year player Brett Kallio posted a team-leading 23 points while shooting a perfect nine for nine from the free-throw line. Mitch Lonsberry contributed 12 points, shooting 100 per cent from outside the arc and Stephen Oliver-Job was also a major factor, netting 13 points.
Despite the dominating performance just 14 hours earlier, the Griffins would stumble out of the gait on Saturday in the afternoon rematch and would find themselves down by a score of 33-26 heading into the second half.
“When you turn it over thirty plus times it’s hard to win a game,” said Griffins’ head coach Peter Guarasci. “It was surprising we actually were still in the game.”
The Griffins did ratchet up the intensity level in the second half, tying the game with a three-pointer with just under 20 seconds remaining. The Wolves promptly called a timeout and were able to find a hole in the MacEwan defense, notching the game-winning three-point shot with just three seconds left in the game leaving the score at 72-69 when the buzzer sounded.
“Even if (Grande Prairie) doesn’t make that shot, even if they miss it, the way we’re playing right now, the way we have come out on the second night of back-to-back games, I don’t know how much we deserved the victory” said an emphatical Guarasci when asked about the gut-wrenching loss. “We’re not locked in. We’re turning the ball over, so I don’t think we deserved to win that game.”
This was the second consecutive Saturday the Griffins would lose by 3 points after handily defeating the same opponent the night before.
The Griffins still had bright spots on Saturday despite the loss. Second-year point guard Sander Lekas continued to show his development netting nine points, despite seeing just over a quarter of action.
“(Sander’s) time is steadily increasing because of his performance in practice and because he’s locked in to what we’re trying to do. It’s great to see him improve,” praised Guarasci.
The Hudson’s Player of the Game for the Griffins was Ryan May, who was incredible on both sides of the ball leading his team in rebounds with eight and adding nine points of his own.
“(May) just worked really hard. He rebounded well, plays hard and plays with passion. He wants to do what’s best for the team and that is what I like to see. He’s a great team guy and despite the loss he was the one guy who really stuck through and kept up his energy level,” said the head coach.
Rookie Matt Kaup also continued to play well for MacEwan, netting 10 points and going two for two from the free-throw line.
With a 2-2 record, Guarasci knows there is a lot of work his team still needs to do if they are to have a serious shot at playoffs.
“We have to play these games like we’re the underdogs. We’re having our problems because we’re winning big in our first game (of the weekend) and then we come into these games with an inflated ego, and then we get punched first and it makes it difficult for us to react.”
(Story by Kris Kinash)