HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WEEKEND WRAP: Go West, young Ravens. Go West…
After receiving the rare invitation to the Canadian university men’s basketball championship as the At-Large representative and not as the OUA champion or runner-up, the Carleton University Ravens implemented their best fast-break technique and headed for Edmonton.
Aiming to win three games in as many days, the Ravens not only entered the Alberta capital as a rare No. 7 seed after being U Sports’ top-ranked team all season, but also they tore down their three Western Canada opponents en route to their 16th national championship since they started their dynasty in 2003. It also was their 10th Canadian university men’s basketball title in the past 11 years.
U Sports also celebrated national championships in track and field, men’s hockey and women’s basketball on the weekend. National Capital Region athletes, representing either the University of Ottawa, Carleton University or other OUA schools, had notable results, which contributed to another three gold and seven bronze medals.
The Ravens showed how they can dominate. But they also proved they can hang on by their fingertips, when host Alberta missed three in-close shots in the final seconds and allowed Carleton to escape with a 64-63 semi-final victory for a berth in the national final, which has become their standard in the past two decades.
Carleton opened the eight-team championship with a strong performance, turning back No. 2 seed Victoria 94-77 in the quarterfinals. Five players scored in double figures for the Ravens, who were led by 17-point efforts from Aiden Warnholtz and Biniam Ghebrekidan.
Forward Lloyd Pandi, the 2021-22 U Sports men’s basketball player of the year, scored 14 points and had a matching number of rebounds as the Ravens eked out a breathtaking win over Alberta, who were out-rebounded 59-32.
In Sunday’s final, Carleton managed 20 or more points in each quarter and held off a late-surging Saskatchewan for an 85-72 victory to spark another W.P. McGee Trophy celebration.
Warnholtz, a guard, came close to a triple-double performance with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Ravens, who continued to own the boards with 54 rebounds to 36 for Saskatchewan. Pandi had his second consecutive double-double game with 16 points and 13 rebounds, while guard Alain Louis recorded his best scoring game with 15 points.
“It’s been a long haul. Three games in three days, and we spent a lot of energy last night (in the semi-final),” Ravens head coach Taffe Charles said in a U Sports news story. “We fell down early and had to battle back. And I think that woke our guys up a bit. The Huskies played a heck of a game, and they battled tonight (in the final).”
Louis won the Jack Donohue Trophy as the MVP of the championship tournament and also was named to the championship all-star team with Pandi.
“This one means more. They ranked us No. 7, and that gave us extra fuel,” Louis added in the U Sports recap. “I’m really proud of the guys. We fought hard for this one. We played Carleton basketball. Everybody has a role, and I’m so proud of this group.”
MADOGO LEADS GUELPH AT U SPORTS TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ottawa native Jacqueline Madogo of the University of Guelph was a record-setting, triple champion at the U Sports track and field championships in Saint John, N.B.
Not only did she win the women’s 60 metres in 7.30 seconds, after qualifying first in 7.36, but also she teamed with Zoe Sherar, Morgan Byng and anchor Von Davis for the gold-medal in a U Sports record run of 1:36.20 in the women’s 4×200-metre relay. Madogo, who played on the women’s varsity soccer team during her first two years at Guelph, also was eighth in the 300-metre final in 40.04.
When the three-day championships were finished, Madogo’s efforts helped Guelph win the women’s team title for the fourth consecutive year and the sixth time overall. The Guelph men’s team also earned their fourth U Sports crown in a row and eighth overall.
Ottawa’s Nina Whitford ran Guelph’s third leg of the women’s 4×800-metre relay and joined teammates Hillary Clark, Cameron Ormond and Sadie-Jane Hickson to step onto the podium for the bronze medal in 8:50.28.
RSEQ champion Alexandra Telford scored Carleton’s first-ever U Sports athletics medal in an individual event, when she was third in the women’s 300 metres in 38.69.
Laval sprinter Audrey Leduc of Gatineau was a double bronze medallist, running 7.44 in the women’s 60-metre final and starting the 4×200-metre relay before watching Sarah Dulude Bellavance, Fiola Tejiofo and Rosalie Couturier blaze to a third-place result in 1:40.81. Leduc also placed fifth in the long jump at 5.87 metres.
Ottawa’s David Adeleye of the University of Toronto was third in the men’s 60-metre hurdles in 8.15.
After qualifying for the women’s 600-metre final with the second fastest time, University of Ottawa’s Sydney Smith narrowly missed a medal, when she finished fourth in the final in 1:32.51. Smith, who is completing her masters in human kinetics, missed the bronze medal by 0.04 seconds and gold by 0.37 seconds.
Doyin Ogunremi, Hannah Frazer, Frederique Bell and anchor Smith, who was competing in her third U Sports nationals, took Ottawa to a seventh-place result in the women’s 4×400-metre relay in 3:54.71.
Ottawa’s Thomas Senechal-Becker finished fourth in the men’s high jump at 2.02 metres. Teammate Brianna Asiamah qualified for the women’s shot-put final and finished eighth at 12.31 metres.
Helena Jovic of Ottawa ran the opening leg of the women’s 4×400-metre relay for Toronto, which placed fifth in 3:53.20. Atlantic champion Will Cox of Ottawa finished 12th in the men’s 3,000 metres for Dalhousie.
UWAYESU SPARKS RYERSON TO U SPORTS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL GOLD MEDAL
Eve Uwayesu and Marin Scotten, both of Ottawa, were part of the gold-medal celebrations at the U SPORTS women’s basketball championship, after Ryerson defeated Winnipeg 70-48 in the final.
Coming off the bench, Uwayesu averaged almost 20 minutes of floor time for her three games, and contributed in all facets of Ryerson’s game. In the final, she had her most productive scoring game with 12 points, hitting four of her five field-goal attempts from the three-point range.
She contributed six rebounds in Ryerson’s 64-56 semi-final win over Brock, and five rebounds and three assists in an 80-49 victory over Prince Edward Island in the quarterfinals.
Scotten missed a pair of field-goal attempts in her combined two minutes of play in the quarter-final and final.
Queen’s defeated Brock 75-57 in the third-place game, which meant Ottawa players Julia Chadwick, Michelle Istead and Isabelle Gaudet earned bronze medals.
Chadwick was one of the Queen’s leaders with a double-double, 16 points (including hitting nine of 11 free throws) and 13 rebounds. Istead played eight minutes, managing one field goal and two free throws for four points, one rebound and an assist. Gaudet did not dress for the championship.
HAWELL IMPRESSES AS ROOKIE FOR ST. FRANCIS XAVIER MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM
Arnprior’s Liam Hawel, the 2021-22 U SPORTS rookie of the year, played a vital role in St. Francis Xavier winning the bronze medal during the national men’s hockey championship.
Hawel counted two assists in each of his first two games as Xavier blanked Brock 3-0 in the quarterfinals and lost 7-3 to Alberta in the semifinals. In the third-place game, Hawel assisted on the game-winning goal at the 43-second mark of the first overtime period as Xavier edged Ryerson 3-2.
DESCHENES’ RINK FINISHES SECOND AT CANADIAN U21 CURLING CHAMPIONSHIP
Skip Emily Deschenes guided her Rideau Curling Club rink of third Emma Artichuk, second Grace Lloyd, lead Evelyn Robert, alternate Adrienne Belliveau and coach Greg Artichuk to the final of the Canadian junior U21 women’s curling championship in Stratford before losing 7-5 to Nova Scotia’s undefeated Taylor Stevens rink.
Deschenes held leads of 3-1 and 4-3 before the match was deadlocked 5-5 after seven ends in the scheduled eight-end final. Stevens used the hammer in the eighth end to score two points for the national title.
After placing second in Pool B with a 6-2 record, Deschenes defeated Alberta’s Serena Gray-Withers 7-4 in the quarterfinals and Northern Ontario’s Katy Lukewich 10-5 in the semifinals.
During the awards ceremony, Deschenes was named the skip on the Balance Plus Fair Play team. The four players and coach were selected by championship officials.
ACRES RINK UNBEATABLE IN ONTARIO U18 CURLING PLAYOFFS
Emma Acres of the RCMP Curling Club defeated London’s Charlotte Johnson 6-5 in the final of the Ontario U18 curling championship in Kingston. Her rink is completed by third Ava Acres, second Liana Flanagan and lead Mya Sharpe.
After narrowly qualifying for the playoffs with a 4-3 round-robin record, the Acres rink was unbeatable in the sudden-death, elimination matches. Acres shut out Sydney Taylor of Burlington 8-0 (five ends) in the quarterfinals and outscored Katrina Frlan of the Huntley Curling Club 9-5 in the semifinals.
The Acres rink will represent Ontario at the Canadian U18 championships May 1-7 in Oakville, Ont. The Frlan rink missed an opportunity to be the second rink from Ontario at nationals by losing to Johnston 7-4.
In the boys’ draw, Rideau Curling Club’s Kai Collins finished third in the round-robin at 4-3, but saw his rink’s chance for a berth at the nationals disappear with a pair of playoff losses to Burlington’s Harry Jones by scores of 6-5 (semifinals) and 7-3 (second-team-to-nationals match).
BRONZE MEDAL FOR WRESTLER MFONPA’RE NTIEWJEM
Lakehead University’s Abraham Mfonpa’re Ntiewjem of Ottawa won the bronze medal in the men’s 82-kilogram class at the OUA wrestling championships in St. Catharines.
Mfonpa’re Ntiewjem also helped Lakehead finish fourth in the men’s team standings. Lakehead wrestlers won two gold, one silver and three bronze medals.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 49 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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