U of O wins 39th annual Jack Donohue Tournament; women succeed in PEI

It was a banner weekend for the Gee-Gees men’s basketball team as they won the 39th annual Jack Donohue Tournament, pushing their pre-season record to 6–0.

Queen’s, St. Francis Xavier, and McGill joined the Gee-Gees to round out the competition for the tournament, which was hosted by the University of Ottawa in Montpetit Hall Oct. 11–13.

The Gees dominated the tournament going 3–0. After defeating the McGill Redmen in overtime by a score of 94–88, the Gee-Gees continued the tournament with a strong performance against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men. The U of O cruised to an easy 94–81 victory, leading by 20 points late in the second half. Mike L’Africain was key in the Gee-Gees’ victory, posting 26 points and going five for eight from beyond the three-point line. L’Africain was the tournament MVP and was the driving force behind much of the Gee-Gees’ play.

“I just want to build … and keep getting better every week,” said L’Africain. “I hold myself to a very high standard and I’m nowhere near satisfied yet, so I will continue to push myself and get better.”

For the third and final game of the weekend, the Gee-Gees didn’t get off to the start they’d hoped for against the Queen’s Gaels, finding themselves up only 43–39 at the half.  They turned their game up in the second half, going on a 23–4 run on their way to an 88–70 win. The turnaround was anchored by 15 second-half takeaways and by L’Africain who posted eight assists, six rebounds and 12 points on the way to the Gee-Gees’ third and final win of the tournament. U of O’s Johnny Berhanemeskel also played a key role in the victory. He netted a game high 26 points to complement his six rebounds.

With a number of returning players from last year’s team, including Vik Gill, Ryan Evans and Johnny Berhanemeskel, L’Africain felt that it was the team’s cohesion that brought them success at the Donohue tournament.

“Staying together and stringing together stops, which helps our offence is always our key, ” said L’Africain.

With the team’s first game of the official season coming up on Nov. 1, they host the Western Mustangs at Montpetit, the strong showing in the preseason is a positive sign.

“It’s important,” said L’Africain. “All these wins just help us get a good ranking at nationals and it helps with our team’s confidence as well.”

The Gee-Gees women’s basketball team also participated in tournament action over the break, as they travelled to the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) to take part in the Mickey Place Memorial tournament. On Oct. 17–20, the three-day tournament featured UPEI, Acadia University, and the UPEI Alumni as teams scheduled to go up against the Gee-Gees.

U of O got off to an excellent start in the tournament as they overpowered the Acadia Axewomen for a final score of 73–43.

The women then took to the court for their second game of the tournament against UPEI Panthers. The Panthers hung around in the game, trailing by only five points at the end of the third quarter, but the Gee-Gees managed to pull out of the gate quickly in the fourth quarter, taking the game to 71–63.

The team also earned Ws against the University of Waterloo and the Université du Québec à Montréal and ceded its only loss to McGill with a score of 74–50. The Gees ended the tournament with a 4–1 record, bring their preseason total to 6–1.