Ikeobi Uchegbu Wins MVP; Upshaw and Dunn Named All Stars
In a tournament hyped as a battle of several of the best backcourts in Canada, it was the brilliant play of the Saint Mary’s Huskies frontcourt that made the difference in the Rod Shoveller classic this past weekend at Dalplex on the campus of Dalhousie University.
5th year senior Ikeobi Uchegbu was named Tournament MVP and sophomore Simon Marr received all star nomination as the dynamic duo led the Huskies to the championship with a 71-66 victory over the rival Saint Francis Xavier X-Men.
The nationally ranked X-Men had been the story of the tournament before Sunday. Coach Steve Konchalski’s team had made easy work of Laurier and Ottawa with a devastating full court pressure defence, and an offence triggered by a trio of outstanding guards, led by the nation’s 2nd leading scorer, Halifax’s Christian Upshaw.
The veteran Huskies with seniors Uchegbu, Mark Mclaughlin, and the savvy Joey Haywood, bent but refused to break under the relentless pressure of the X-Men, and slowly began taking the game over in the 4th quarter with a half court passing game that seemed to give Ross Quackenbush’s troops an open look at the basket on every possession.
Leading the way was Uchegbu and Marr, working together with brilliant precision throughout the second half to spur the Huskies comeback. Uchegbu finished the game with 18 points and 9 rebounds, 1 day after a brilliant performance vs. the Dalhousie Tigers in the semi finals.
Miguel Pink came off the bench to add 11 points while Mclaughin and Haywood combined for 28 points for the Huskies.
Christian Upshaw led the way in defeat for St FX with 21 points and 8 rebounds.
Ottawa’s Josh Gibson-Bascombe and Dalhousie’s Simon Farine were also named to the All Star team.
The Huskies and X-Men will now prepare for conference play beginning next weekend. The X-Men are undefeated in the AUS this season and start the second term in Newfoundland for a 2 game set with the Memorial Seahawks. The Huskies will open at the Tower with 2 weekend games vs.UPEI.
The Dalhousie Tigers will host the Acadia Axemen this Friday at Dalplex. The game can be seen on ssncanada.ca. Tip time is 8:00 approximate.
Notes and Observations
Despite Saturday’s loss to the X-Men by 15, the Ottawa Gee Gee’s looked very impressive this weekend and should be a tough team to beat in the OUA. The Gee Gees posted double digit victories over the Acadia Axemen and Dalhousie Tigers. Josh Gibson-Bascombe, Warren Ward, and Donnie Gibson are an outstanding trio of guards and a great deal of fun to watch…..one of the intriguing sights this weekend were the sons of Victoria legend Eli Pasquale, Manny and Isiah, playing for the Laurentian Voyageurs. The pair combined for an exciting performance in Friday’s nightcap vs. the Tigers, hoisting up three point shots with little discretion…..The Laurentian/Laurier connection was also an interesting storyline. Peter Campbell used to be the coach of Laurentian and is now with Laurier. Campbell’s son, Jamie, plays at Laurentian for Shawn Swords, who played for Peter at Laurentian. John Campbell, another son of Peter, used to be the Head Coach of Women’s basketball at Laurentian, and is now the Head Coach at Dalhousie…..one official at Saturday’s semi final between Dal and SMU found himself sandwiched between the Campbell family after he assessed a technical foul to the Tiger’s head coach. As John yelled from the bench, Peter berated the official from the baseline seats……Mari Peoples-Wong has returned home to Ontario and will not finish the season with the Tigers. The athletic swingman has family concerns that he needs to address. To fill the roster spot, Campbell has recruited Cole Taylor to the program. Taylor is a speedy point guard from the Detroit area. Taylor saw regular minutes this weekend and looked impressive at times……Saturday’s semi final between the Huskies and Tigers was certainly the game of the weekend. The Tigers led 66-64 with about 12 seconds left but ended up losing the game 69-66 after a bizarre sequence of plays triggered by some craftiness from Uchebu of SMU. Uchegbu poked the ball away from Simon Farine on an inbounds pass; moments later snuck in for a rebound on a missed foul shot from teammate Demitri Harris; and finally pressured Tigers’ Joe Schow to lose the ball out of bounds in a wild finish to give the Huskies the win…..The Tigers still seemed shocked from the collapse in today’s game vs. Ottawa. The Gee Gees out scored Dalhousie 42-16 in the second half. After cruising through pre-season and the first three games of the regular season, the Tigers have now lost 5 of 6 games and will likely drop out of the national rankings this week after getting as high as 4th in the weekly poll.