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Men’s basketball, swim team head into second semester strong

Men’s basketball
The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team had a successful winter break, winning all three of their games at the Wesmen Classic tournament at the University of Winnipeg to take the championship.

The Gee-Gees, the number two ranked team in the country, defeated the tournament hosts 81–71 on Dec. 30 to win the tournament for the first time in its 47-year history.

Third-year point guard Mike L’Africain was pleased with the team’s performance at the Wesmen Classic.

“The tournament went well, we got exactly what we wanted: three wins and a chance to get better,” he said.

The Wesmen Classic tournament marks the third tournament win for the Gee-Gees this year, as they also took the Accreon Helen Campbell and Eric Garland tournaments, both hosted by the University of New Brunswick, and the Jack Donohue Invitational at home during the pre-season.

The Gee-Gees were led by fourth-year point guard Johnny Berhanemeskel, who posted 22 points in each of the last two games and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

“Johnny ‘Buckets’ is our leader and he means so much for our team,” said L’Africain. “It’s fair to say we go as far as he takes us. He’s a special player.”

Berhanemeskel’s performance was complemented by second-year guard Caleb Agada, who received a spot on the tournament all-star team and posted a double-double, with 21 points and 14 rebounds in the championship game. Throughout the whole tournament, Agada averaged 15 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Gee-Gees newcomer Terry Thomas started in all three games and did not waste his playing time. Thomas scored on a number of dunks and put up 14.3 points per game overall in the tournament. The 6’4” forward transferred to the U of O from St. Francis Xavier University in February of 2013 and comes with an excellent track record, having earned a spot on Atlantic University Sport’s (AUS) first all-star team and the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s (CIS) second all-Canadian team back in 2012.

The team got off to a great start in the championship game against the Winnipeg Wesmen, posting a 47–24 lead heading into halftime. The Wesmen staged a comeback during the third quarter, cutting the score to an 11-point Gee-Gees lead, but that was as close as they would get as the Gees won the championship matchup 81–71.

In their semi-final matchup, the Gee-Gees took out the University of Regina 90–75. Berhanemeskel put up 22 points, including four three-pointers, while second-year centre Matt Nelson grabbed seven rebounds and Agada added 18 points and five assists.
The Gee-Gees’ first game of the tournament ended up being their tightest game, as they defeated Brandon University from Brandon, Man., 78–70. Ottawa won due to 17 points from Berhanemeskel and nine rebounds from Agada.

The Wesmen Classic tournament marks the third tournament win for the Gee-Gees this year, as they also took the Accreon Helen Campbell and Eric Garland Tournament, both hosted by the University of New Brunswick, as well as the Jack Donohue Invitational at home during the pre-season.

Heading into the second half of the season, the Gee-Gees are 19–1 against CIS opponents, but L’Africain knows there is still a lot of work to be done.

“The keys for us as the season winds down is execution, pace, and fine-tuning our defence,” he said.

Swim team
The U of O swim team also had a strong showing over the winter break, with seven swimmers competing in the 2013 Christmas Invitational held at the Gatineau Sports Centre. The event, held Dec. 13–15, proved to be fruitful for second-year accounting student Robert Bonomo and first-year biology and psychology student Marie-Pier Daigle, both of whom made qualifying times to enter in the CIS championships.

Bonomo only raced in the heats due to exams and posted excellent results, but decided to forego the finals. In the men’s 100-metre freestyle, Bonomo timed 50 seconds 4 milliseconds. In the 200-metre backstroke event, he swam a time of 2 minutes 16 milliseconds, and in the 100-metre fly, Bonomo broke a Gee-Gees record by posting a 55.71 second time. Bonomo qualified for Canadian senior nationals in all three of his races.

Daigle only swam in the women’s 200-metre backstroke heat, but made the race count placing third in the final with a time of 2 minutes 18 seconds 29 milliseconds.

Up next for the swim team is a Jan. 17 meet at McMaster University. On Jan. 18–19, the Gee-Gees will be in Toronto for the Ontario Swim Cup, hosted by the University of Toronto and the Toronto Swim Club at the U of T Harbord Pool.