Epistola and Stoqua injuries hurt Gee-Gees in semifinal game
The Gee-Gees men’s basketball team suffered their worst loss of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday night. The Gees were blown out 96-61 in their OUA semifinals matchup with the Carleton Ravens.
The Gee-Gees were without star guard Calvin Epistola and veteran Sean Stoqua, who both tweaked their ankles in practice.
“They are not 100 per cent healthy,” said head coach James Derouin. “Calvin rolled his ankle at the end of the Ryerson game and has not practiced at all, his ankle is swollen, the goal is to have him back by Friday (Gee-Gees first national championship game).”
“Sean tweaked (his ankle) two days ago, he has a history of ankle injuries and after warmups he came and told us he couldn’t jump and wasn’t ready to go,” Derouin added.
Both players should be ready to go for the national championships but their injuries could hamper them when they hit the court on March 6 at TD Place Arena.
“Calvin will play no matter what, the question is what condition he’ll be in,” Derouin added on Epistola. “The school obviously has made a huge commitment to us with helping get that automatic bid and hosting nationals this year, but without those guys, you saw it tonight, we got one all-star they have-three all-stars, one rookie of the year, one coach of the year and we need him, he’s our heart and our leader on the court.”
With that in mind, Derouin had to shuffle his lineup and used many different combinations on the night. The veteran coach gave rookie players such as Dragan Stajic and Thomas Chilton a lot of playing time. It was Borys Minger who was tasked with replacing his all-star teammate. Minger, however, struggled and in 23 minutes of play on the court was held pointless.
The Ravens needed to win on Wednesday night in order to qualify for the national championships taking place at TD Place Arena next week. Carleton also looked to avenge their Capital Hoops last-minute loss to the Gee-Gees.
Carleton came out roaring and seemed in a different league than the Gee-Gees. The Ravens led 25-14 after a quarter and 52-27 at the half in a very lopsided game. Carleton kept piling on the points in the third and fourth quarters. The Ravens dropped 22 points in each of the final two quarters to take the game 96-61.
“They hit us with that first punch and without our leadership we had a hard time bouncing back from that first punch,” said Derouin. “Carleton was ready, they were phenomenal tonight.”
“They were well prepared and ready to take us out, ” said Derouin. “Once they found out Calvin and Sean weren’t playing they went for our heart, they took it and all the credit goes to those guys.”
It was apparent that without Epistola the Gee-Gees were not the same team that had typically hit the court this season.
“He’s been grandiose all year, he’s an incredible leader and he’s able to produce a lot of offence even when the rest of the team is struggling, he’s also been incredible defensively,” said Minger of Epistola when asked about the impact his teammate has when he’s on the court.
Epistola showed off his leadership skills right after the Minger press scrum. Both men huddled and Epistola comforted his younger teammate who was disappointed in his own performance in a very emotional moment for both men.
For Ottawa, Freshman Stajic led in points with 15 on the night, also tallying up five rebounds. Charles-Antoine Gaba was the best player for Ottawa in the paint with seven rebounds. Other notables included Guillaume Pepin with 12 points and Kevin Civil with nine points.
On the home side of the court, Alain Louis dropped 20 on the Gee-Gees while Connor Vreeken had 14 points. Isiah Osborne had seven rebounds and Joseph Yasiin led in assists with six.
The Ravens move on to the Wilson Cup Finals, where they’ll face the Western Mustangs on Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the Ravens Nest. The Gee-Gees are out of the OUA playoffs and their next game will be on March 6. at TD Place Arena to open the national championships. Time and opponent are still to be determined.