Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus has been one of the top players for the women’s basketball team this season. Photo: Kim Wiens/The Fulcrum
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Both Ottawa and Carleton will be looking to improve their standings at the rivalry game as playoffs approach

The 2020 edition of the Capital Hoops Classic is right around the corner, and both the Gee-Gees and Ravens basketball teams are preparing to battle it out on Friday at TD Place. 

The season so far

Ottawa and Carleton sit at the top of the OUA East on the women’s side. Ottawa holds top spot with a 15-2 record, while Carleton is right behind with a 13-5 record . The teams last matched up in early December, with the Gees leaving the Ravens Nest with a 66-49 win.

Like the women, the men’s teams are first and second in the OUA East standings as well. In this case, it’s Carleton who claims the top spot with a perfect record on the season. When they met in December, the Gee-Gees dropped the game by a slim four-point margin, by a score of 69-65. 

What to expect from the Ravens 

The Carleton women are a younger squad this season, with the majority of their lineup in first and second year. Seniors Alyssa Cerino and Marlee Ball, alongside junior Madison Reid, lead the team in scoring. 

Despite being a team with plenty of fresh faces, the Ravens have proven to be a strong defensive team. Freshman Tatyanna Burke has been shutting down plenty of veteran players on defence and cleaning up the boards. 

Carleton’s defence was not left unnoticed by Katherine Follis, a first year Gee-Gee, but a veteran in the OUA.

“Carleton is known as a good defensive team, and a team that you can always count on for bringing their toughness,” said Follis “It’s going to be a 40 minute battle, and we know both teams are coming forward with their best.”

Cerino is the only fifth year on the Ravens team. She has played in her share of Capital Hoops games, including in the three year Ravens winning streak from 2016 to 2018. 

“The fans help make it an exciting event,” said Cerino “Both our teams make it a good game to watch.”

The Ravens were fifth in the USports rankings in Week 11 with a record of 13-4. 

The Carleton men’s basketball team has been an absolute powerhouse in recent years and are currently the defendingUSports national champions. This season, it’s clear that things haven’t changed much for the Ravens squad. The undefeated Ravens team is full of scoring ability. Carleton is led by seniors Yasiin Joseph and Munis Tutu, who put points on the board almost effortlessly.  Freshman Lloyd Pandi has been a revelation for Carleton and averages 16.3 points per game, leading the team.

In their previous matchup with the Gee-Gees, Tutu put 23 points on the board. Carleton also has a very deep bench, with every player contributing this season. 

Gage Sabean, a fourth-year guard on the Gee-Gees, spoke on the loss to Carleton earlier this season. 

“We had a tight game with them earlier this year at Carleton,” said Sabean “In our earlier matchup, we had a couple guys out with injuries so we are excited for them to be back and at full strength to take them on this time around.”

In terms of Capital Hoops history, Carleton leads the series 11-2, winning by double digits in the last three years. 

What to expect from the Gee-Gees

The Gee-Gees women’s team is proving once again to be a dominant force. Not only did they win the Capital Hoops showdown last season, but they earned a national bronze medal as well. 

This season, Ottawa is a fast-paced team, with Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus leading the charge, recently putting up a triple-double. In her third year, Brigette Lefebvre-Okankwu has contributed across the board, putting up major points while bringing down rebounds on both ends of the court. 

Transfers Follis and Tyra Blizzard have added experience and consistency to the team. Coming from Ryerson, Follis has become a regular for the Gees, and is currently leading USports in field-goal percentage. For both, this will be their first time playing in the Capital Hoops Classic.

“As a player who has been in the OUA for six years now, I’ve always kept an eye on big games around the league,” said Follis “I have a pretty good idea on the excitement behind this game.”

Maia Timmons, Alana Renon, and Angela Ribarich continue to be familiar faces for the Gees, while freshman Natsuki Szczokin has earned a regular spot on the team, playing hard defence and finding the mesh. 

“The new additions to the team, both transfers and first years, have given us a deep bench,” said Ribarich. “We’ve shown that we can get the job done in the right games.” 

In Week 11, the Gee-Gees were in third place team in the USports rankings with a 15-2 record. 

On the men’s side, the Gees should not be counted out against the Ravens. 

Senior Calvin Epistola has been a huge force for the grey and garnet, whether it be perfectly placed passes, a three over a defender’s head, or a drive into the paint. In their game earlier this season, Epistola put up 30 points against the Ravens. 

Alongside Epistola, the Gees have three strong guards in Kevil Civil, Sean Stoqua, and Borys Minger. 

After dealing with an injury earlier in the season, Sabean’s return to the court has been made known through his effortless shooting. 

Another player recently returning from injury, Guillaume Pepin is back to his usual self. A huge contributor of points for the Gees, Pepin is dominant in the paint. 

Marlon Kordrostami and freshman Thomas Chilton have been the big men on the team. It’s unlikely that anyone gets the ball away from them inside the paint. 

In USports rankings, Ottawa was sitting in sixth Week 11 with a 13-4 record. 

Preparing for the game

Since its debut in 2007, the annual rivalry game between Ottawa and Carleton has been held at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata. This year, the event has been moved to TD Place, making it much closer (and more accessible) to both campuses. 

Last year, 9,004 fans were in attendance as the Gee-Gees women and Carleton men came out victorious.

“We get to see a ton of our students, families, alumni, and other supporters all come out to this one big event,” said Sabean. 

“I think it’s important for everyone to come to both the men and women’s games,” he added. “Both teams put in countless hours throughout the season.” 

The Capital Hoops Classic brings a different atmosphere to university basketball for athletes, coaches, and fans alike. Still, the game counts toward the standings, and with playoffs on the horizon, both teams will be looking to improve their OUA standings. 

“We have to look at it as just another regular season game and stay level headed in that way, but at the same time, the size and excitement of the game raises the stakes a ton,” said Ribarich. “We will prepare for Carleton the same as any other game, but there is a little more on the line.”

“We all know Capital Hoops is a big weekend for the school,” said Follis. “We have a lot of price surrounding Capital Hoops, so as a team we want to be able to come out and play our best basketball.”

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Editor’s Note (Feb. 2, 6:13 p.m.): This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Katherine Follis’s last name.