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Gees rally for 28-point win at Algoma, set sights for Carleton at Capital Hoops

Photo credit: Richard Whittaker

There was no bigger trap game on the Gee-Gees schedule than their matchup with the Algoma Thunderbirds. It was a classic example of the worst possible situation dealt to the team.

The previous weekend, the Gees went across the province to Windsor, only to turn around in a matter of days and depart once again for another 10 hours on the road.

Ottawa rode into Sault Ste. Marie first place in the country and face off against an Algoma team with only one win this season. The Thunderbirds jumped at the opportunity to take advantage of the road-worn Gee-Gees, as they installed a harassing full-court press defence from the opening tip.

As Ottawa’s shooters worked to get their groove in the early minutes, Algoma seemed to hide in passing lanes and take every bounce in their favour. The Thunderbird offence was efficient enough to consistently deny the Gee-Gees’ signature score-in-bunches style. After the first quarter, Algoma held a 21-18 lead and would continue nagging at the Gees through the second quarter. On the other side of halftime, Algoma’s inevitable fall came.

The Gee-Gees found their zone and began pulling away, before ultimately pushing their lead over 20 points to cruise to a comfortable 91-63 win. The Gee-Gees were led by Johnny Berhanemeskel with 19 points, and the bench was anchored by a strong 12-point performance from Matt Plunkett.

With the team having to work harder than anticipated for the win, it may add extra pressure on the team as they prepare for their re-match with their second-ranked rival Carleton Ravens at the Capital Hoops Classic on Feb. 6. Luckily for the Gee-Gees, the game gives them an opportunity to prepare as if they were playing at home, despite being in a month-long road stretch.

After the team’s last clash, they will be looking to once again stop the Ravens, a team with much more to prove dealing with their two losses this season.

For the first time in the rivalry, the game is truly Carleton’s to lose as they could likely fall behind Ryerson and slip in playoff seeding. The Gee-Gees will need the return of their starting point guard Mike L’Africain, as they’ll need Medhi Tihani to focus on defense rather than running plays.

With a win at Capital Hoops, the Gee-Gees could begin to prepare for their path back to the national championship, as the remaining four games in their schedule come against second-rate teams in the province.

The 2015 Capital Hoops Classic at the Canadian Tire Centre will begin with the Gee-Gees women’s team taking on the Ravens at 6 p.m., followed by the men’s at 8 p.m.