Saturday, 10 October 2009

Hawks hold off Stingers to win NIKE Invitational

Laurier 76, Concordia 73... Holding off a second half Stingers surge, the Hawks claimed the NIKE championship despite injuries to two regulars and another to their top shot blocker. Tournament MVP 6'5" Kale Harrison shouldered the load offensively in the absence of 5'11" starting point guard Travis Berry (concussion sustained on Friday against RMC) and 6'6" freshman Max Allin (injured ankle in first 10 seconds of today's game), who has and should be a heavy minutes player for Laurier. The Hawks ran their offense to near perfection in the first half, sharing the ball, making solid cuts and reads and the result was leads as high as 17 points late in the second quarter. The Stingers came out flying in the second half and cut the lead to six helped by an early third quarter bonus situation and remained close through the rest of the game however unable to ever take a lead.

The injuries provided an opportunity for 6'4" freshman Kyle Enright (among others) to get more time than planned and Enright, a slick shooter from Oakville, did not disappoint, knocking down consecutive 3's in the late going to allow Laurier to stay on top. The closest Concordia got to was 1 with under 20 seconds remaining however 6'2" tournament all-star Jesse MacDonald, who ran the point in Berry's absence handling Concordia's active guards very well, calmly sunk a pair of free throws and the Hawks had Concordia's try for a game-tying three well defended to claim the win. Laurier's 6'8" shotblocking forward Andrew Pennycook also suffered what was believed to be a concussion late in the contest after knocking heads with an unidentified Stinger.

Concordia welcomed back 6'1" guard Decee Krah back into the lineup after he missed last weekend's games in Kingston due to an ankle injury and the young Stingers were energized by the athletic guard's play. Krah and 6'5" sophomore forward Evens Laroche were both named to the tournament all-star team as was Laurentian's 6'4" freshman guard Manny Pasquale, who kept the Vees close in Friday night's first round loss to the Stingers with five first-half 3's; he finished with 21 points in that game. 6'6" Matas Tirilus was Laurentian's best player on Friday night, working inside against the Stingers front line for a 20 point/10 rebound evening.

Earlier today, the Vees stomped an injury-plagued RMC Paladins group 102-62 behind eight 3's from 6'3" Isiah Pasquale, who had a game-high 27 points. While the majority of Paladins played, several RMC players look noticeably banged up, forcing RMC Coach Scott James to fall back into a zone for much of the game and the ploy worked early as Paladins grabbed a 10-3 lead. However, Laurentian, led by the elder Pasquale and 6'1" Dave Otterbein (4-4 3's/16 points) quickly caught up and led 52-24 by halftime en route to the easy win. RMC got a nice effort from 6'0" freshman point guard Justin Hall, who operated well against pressure, generally made strong decisions and made shots. Hall appeared worn down toward the end of the tournament however a healthy Paladin group should be much more competitive in the OUA this season.

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