Photo: Marta Kierkus.
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Rams get the best of Ottawa for second straight year

A 77-69 defeat to the Ryerson Rams in the quarters on Feb. 24 put an end to the basketball season for the Gee-Gees, a team which at first glance looked promising. This came following the 34 points they amassed through the 23-game long season, and their second-place position in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) division, sitting just behind the undefeated Carleton Ravens.

In fact, back in October, Ottawa was trying to build off from a semi-final loss in last year’s OUA postseason, also to the Rams. The team had a great roster, featuring star players such as the 6-foot-8 forward Jean Emmanuel Pierre-Charles and 6-foot-5 guard Brandon Robinson. After a strong season on paper, they narrowly missed matching their previous year’s playoff run, coming up just short in the only post-season game they were able to play in.

After a good exhibition season against mostly Québec-based teams, the Gee-Gees kicked off their regular season schedule by winning their first two games of the season, and three of their first four. After a loss in their fifth game to the cross-town arch-rivals, the Carleton Ravens, the Garnet and Grey went on to win their next eight games, some of them by very convincing scores: 111-55 against the Algoma Thunderbirds, 87-44 against the York Lions, and 94-59 versus the Lakehead Thunderwolves, notably.

The season followed by ups and downs, losing another game to the Ravens in the Capital Hoops Classic, and subsequently concluded the 2017-18 campaign with four Ws in the final four games for a total of 17 wins and six losses, putting the team in second place.

The Rams ended in third place in that same division, collecting the exact same record as the Gee-Gees, and both teams ultimately met up in the quarterfinals. Ryerson and Ottawa split their regular-season matchups with wins at home, as the Gees took the first meeting 81-73, while Ryerson earned a 95-92 victory when they received the Gee-Gees.

The two teams had rather even and similar seasons, Ottawa having a slight advantage with a higher points differential than their opponents. In a hard fought, single-game elimination quarterfinal, the Rams turned out to have the edge for the second year in a row against the Gees as they came out victorious and advanced to the semi-finals, squaring off against the Brock Badgers. After winning that game as well, they faced the Ravens in the Wilson Cup final last Saturday.

The team’s leading scorer Brandon Robinson, who ended with 275 points, said the Gees were confident going into the season. “We had some new players on the team, new additions, and there was a lot of chemistry we had to do to get prepared for the season.”

“Unfortunately, we lost Sean (Stoqua), our starting point guard, and other players went down with injuries, we just had to step up and fill in for them, and I think as a team we did a pretty good job in doing that during the season,” said Robinson. “For me, personally, I think I had a good season, probably could’ve done a bit more to prepare, but now I know what I need to do to train during the offseason.”

Robinson believes that the Ravens remain the team to look out for moving forward. Indeed, Carleton is coming off a perfect 23-0 season, and has won the past seven U-Sports championships since 2011, and a total of 13 times since 2003. “They have one of the most mentally-tough team in the country,” said Robinson.

The season is over for the Gee-Gees, so they will now start to look forward to the offseason and make the best out of it to get ready for the 2018-19 year.