Sunday, 10 October 2010

St. FX 107, Lakehead 89

The X-Men claimed the championship of the Eric Garland tournament at UNB in Fredericton by pulling away in the fourth quarter to hand Lakehead their first defeat of the season at the Aitken Center.  With X up one after three quarters, many expected the Wolves to produce their patented fourth quarter defensive lock down, but X, led by 6'4" tournament MVP Dwayne Johnson's strong play down the stretch, took off to lead by 10 with 5 minutes left and then win comfortably as it turned out.

"We tried to take the three point line away today" stated X Coach Steve Konchalski.  "Lakehead is a tremendous shooting team so we tried to keep the tempo up all day so down the stretch they might tire - especially being the third game in 2 1/2 days."  In the end, the Wolves, who made 16 threes in each of the first two games of the tournament, shot only 8 for 26 from downtown and the deep X-Men who went deep into their bench the entire game, pulled away.  Konchalski added that Lakehead is "a very good, quality team".

The sparse crowd was treated to a high-energy game that was filled with intensity that occasionally bordered on chippiness which spilled over with about 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter when Lakehead Coach Scott Morrison was assessed his second technical and was ejected.  Morrison's second "T", which observers viewed as surprising and without huge incident, gave the Wolves a small emotional lift as they took off a mini-run to reclaim the lead briefly however the loss of their coach appeared to hamper Lakehead down the stretch when X pulled away.

Joining Johnson, who had 28 points and 8 rebounds today, on the tournament all-star team was fellow fifth-year guard Christian "T-Bear" Upshaw who had 25 of his game-high 34 points in the first half.   6'4" Venzal Russell (22 points) was impressive for Lakehead with his array of strength, ability to shake-and-bake to get to the rim and defensive presence and presents a very good complement to Lakhead's starting backcourt of 6'1" PG Greg Carter (15 points) and 6'1" SG Jamie Searle.

Tied at 29 early in the second quarter, the X-Men produced a run that gave them a 56-48 halftime lead.  But the Thunderwolves used an 11-3 run off the start of the third to push the game back to even at 59.  X was able to take a 71-70 going into the fourth.

Lakehead continues their tour of Atlantic Canada with games in Nova Scotia this coming week while the X-Men are off until a trip the weekend after this coming to Ottawa for the Jack Donohue Memorial Tip-Off tournament in Ottawa.

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