Little rest for the Garnet and Grey over the holiday season
Many University of Ottawa students took the holiday break to head home and relax with their families to recover from the stress of final exams.
But for many Gee-Gees athletes, some time at home had to be sacrificed in order to remain primed for the final stretches of their varsity seasons.
With this goal in mind, the men’s and women’s basketball teams both set off to ‘la belle province’ to participate in exhibition tournaments.
The undefeated, number-one ranked men and the 6-1 women were in Quebec City at Laval’s Tournoi Rouge et Or des Fêtes.
Prior to the end of the first semester, men’s head coach James Derouin commented on the significance of the matchups at the tournament. In particular he highlighted the chance to face the seventh-ranked Calgary Dinos.
“They’ve been flirting in and out of the Top 10,” said Derouin. “With wildcard implications and other things it could be a big game.”
Dec. 28 marked the team’s first time on the floor in one month, the time away from the game was obvious as the Gees kicked off the tournament flat footed. Early foul troubles gave the hosts a convincing lead before half.
A late-game rally by the Gees made things interesting, but ultimately they fell to the Rouge et Or 87-77. Luckily, the rare disjointed performance was quickly corrected.
The following night, the Gees took on the Dinos and thundered to a redemptive result.
Led by Caleb Agada’s lethal 28-point, eight rebound, five assist performance, the Gee-Gees defeated the Dinos 94-78.
In the closing game of the tournament, the Gees won a shootout against the explosive UNB Varsity Reds by a 105-96 final tally.
The Gee-Gees were crowned champions of the tournament and Agada received MVP honours.
On the women’s end of the court, the Gees opened their tournament against the Collège Montmorency Nomades, a CÉGEP in Laval, Que.
The Gees rested many of their key players in a ugly 48-28 loss. The tournament provided a chance for the Gees to play top competition with games against the defending champion Windsor Lancers and fifth-ranked McMaster Marauders.
One night later, the Gees eked out a 63-61 win over the Lancers. Led by Catherine Traer and Krista Van Slingerland, the Gee-Gees seemed to return to their early season form.
In the marquee matchup of the tournament, the Gee-Gees went head-to-head with the Marauders looking to prove they deserve a place among the nation’s best.
In a thrilling back and forth clash of titans, it all came down to a Gees’ possession tied at 61 with only two ticks left on the clock. In the waning seconds, Traer worked the ball to fellow team leader Kellie Ring, who knocked down a game-winning jumper as time expired.
The Gee-Gees will hope to take the cold-blooded clutch moment as foreshadowing for more key wins against top teams. Perhaps it highlights a path less traveled for the Gees in the past three seasons, and finding their way back to the Final 8 Tournament would be a welcome achievement this season.
On the ice, the tenth-ranked Gee-Gees women’s hockey team was on the hunt to continue their highly impressive start to the season at Concordia’s Theresa Humes Tournament.
The women downed ninth-ranked St. Francis Xavier X-Women 4-1 in the tourney opener. The team also faced off against Plattsburgh State and Dalhousie.
Plattsburgh is undefeated and is the top-ranked in the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division III.
The Gee-Gees fell to Plattsburgh 4-2 on Jan. 3, and wrapped up their tournament play with a 5-1 win over Dalhousie the following day.
In women’s volleyball, the Gee-Gees are partaking in four exhibition games over the break. The first two will come against the struggling Laval Rouge et Or when they visit Montpetit Hall for matches on Jan. 8 and 9.
The team will follow these games up with a trip to Montreal to take on the sixth-ranked Carabins on Jan. 10. The Gees will close their holiday exhibition schedule on Jan. 13 in a match against the UQAM Citadins at L’Heritage High School in Cornwall.
The Gee-Gees swimming team had the furthest but likely most relaxing destination for preparation over the holidays, as they traveled to Hawaii to participate in a training camp and get some much-deserved rest in the sun.
The Gees teams will return to regular season action as the new semester gets underway.
The key matchup of the New Year will be the ever-exhilarating clash between the Gee-Gees and Carleton Ravens on the basketball court. The women’s teams will do battle at 6 p.m. with the top-two men’s teams in Canada renewing their rivalry at 8 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Raven’s Nest.