The Lakehead University Men’s Basketball team opened their preseason on a very strong note by sweeping the Winnipeg Wesmen 80-68 on Friday and 92-61 on Saturday.
Both games featured spectacular performances by the ‘Wolves as Venzal Russell led in scoring with 30 points on the night on Friday while Ben Johnson put up 29 points on Saturday.
Before game one, the OUA championship banner was presented to the delight of all the fans, complete with a thank you speech by alumni and now assistant coach, Jamie Searle.
The presentation must have gotten the Wesmen riled up, as they started the first quarter on a 7-0 run, outscoring the home side 21-15 going into the second quarter. The ‘Wolves bit back by reducing the advantage to three points going into the locker room at the half with the score 38-35. It did not take long for the ‘Wolves to show why they were raising a championship banner before the game, as the home side outscored their opponents 45-33 in the second half to take the victory.
Venzal Russell, Brendan King, and Ben Johnson were big contributors to the score while Yoosrie Salhia came up with 9 rebounds in the contest. The Wesmen were led by Travis Krahn with 20 points, and Eric Zimmerman with 14 points.
Game two of the series started out very similar to game one, as the Wesmen quickly got out to a 7-0 lead.
Then Ben Johnson stepped in.
Scoring 12 of Lakehead’s 18 points in the first quarter, Johnson was arguably the top player of the night. Making an impact on both ends of the court, he was responsible for over half of Lakehead’s points in the first part of the game, and finished the game with 29 points.
Once Lakehead got a lead in this game, the Winnipeg Wesmen could only watch as the lead was extended by various ‘Wolves knocking down 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
Nathan Wainwright shot 4/4 from beyond the arch in the 4th quarter. Another satisfying detail in this game was that every player made it on the scoreboard, including rookie Brandon Myketa, who got his first points from a free throw, and then contributed to the 3-pointer madness with one of his own.
Winnipeg’s leaders for the game were Andrew Cunningham with 12 points and 4 assists and Kelvin Smith with 11 points.
“I thought we did a better all around job tonight,” commented head coach Scott Morrison on the win, “Offensively we were not perfect but used better ball movement resulting in improved looks. Defensively we did a better job in transition to limit their easy buckets. Lots of work left to do but happy to see good games out of some of our bench and new players.”