Ottawa finishes with silver for second consecutive season
Photo Credit: Jesse Colautti
For the second year in a row, and after their best season yet, the Gee-Gees could not overcome their fierce rival in the national final.
It is the 11th time in 13 years, the Carleton Ravens are the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) men’s basketball champions.
The 93-46 loss in Toronto marked the end of Johnny Berhanemeskel and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue’s careers, two of the finest players in the program’s history. Ravens brothers Philip and Thomas Scrubb will also graduate, with five national titles under their belts.
Third-year swingman Moe Ismail led the Gees in scoring with 10 points.
But the energy of the Gee-Gees crowd at Ryerson University’s Mattamy Athletic Centre fell along with their team.
Early in the game, the Ravens took heavy advantage of the Gee-Gees’ mistakes, as they closed out the first quarter with a five-point lead. During the second, the Gees were able to bring the game within reach before Carleton pulled away.
The boiling point was the ejection of head coach James Derouin on two technical fouls for complaining to the refs about calls. It was a hotly contested decision, as it’s not commonplace to eject a coach in the championship final.
Lead assistant coach Justin Serresse could only do so much as the Ravens ran away to a final score that more than doubled their opponent’s points.
“We couldn’t get anything going offensively whatsoever,” said Derouin. “They did an incredible job on the ball and their switching defence gave us headaches all night. They challenged every shot we took, and even when we got offensive rebounds we couldn’t turn them into points.”
The CIS coach of the year was understandably shaken by his ejection and the role the officials played in the game.
“I have to throw a chair or something bigger than that to be thrown out of a championship final,” said Derouin.
“I’m always cognizant of what I’m doing and I’m always in control. I would never get thrown out of a game like this regardless of the score. Only thing I can say is that I apologize to the university and I didn’t mean to disrespect what (Ravens coach) Dave (Smart) did—I was just fighting for my team.”
The difficult loss was one the team will have to fight with for the ensuing months. For most onlookers, the game was not about the strength of Carleton, but rather the series of unfortunate events that led to the Gee-Gees’ loss.
Off the court, the players had always spoken about how they wanted to win this championship for their captains Berhanemeskel and Gonthier-Dubue, as a parting gift to their beloved leaders.
Though they couldn’t give them that gift, the upside is that the Gee-Gees will prepare for next season with little turnover as they retain their roster with the exception of those two players.
“We know it’s a new season with the kids graduating this year,” said Derouin. “We’ll put it together. We have to create a new identity with this team with Johnny and Gab now graduating, and we’ll get to work this summer and try to get back here next season.”
For next year, there are plenty of bright players on the bench that are likely to shine once they have their opportunity on the court.
Some heralded this CIS final as the last clash of the titans. Next year, Carleton’s three best players will be gone—Thomas Scrubb, Phillip Scrubb, and Victor Raso—but there is little doubt they will remain competitive.
For the Ravens, this title was a victory lap, but for the Gee-Gees it was just another stoke of the fire.