Wolves take to the court over the holidays

By Noah Cain

Sports Editor

Men’s basketball victorious in Winnipeg

The men’s basketball team traveled to Winnipeg this holiday season with hopes of challenging the 46th annual Wesmen Classic, hosted by the University of Winnipeg.

Competitors included Dikinson St. Blue Hawks (North Dakota), the Brandon Bobcats, the Winnipeg Wesmen, the Mount Royal U Cougars (Calgary, AB), Mayville St. Comets (North Dakota), University of Northern BC Timberwolves, and Keyono College Huskies (Fort McMurray, AB).

Lakehead Coach Scott Morrison was nervous to play the UNBC Timberwolves, saying “It’s tough when you have to match up against a tough team like UNBC with minimal prep time.” But he was excited to see his team step onto the court, and had no need to fear, for the Thunderwolves handily defeated the Timberwolves 90-50.

The explosive defensive and rebounding intensity is what won the game for Lakehead. Yoosrie Salhia and Ryan Thomson set the tone early and worked hard to run their hi-lo game to defeat UNBC’s defence. Together they scored 33 of Lakehead’s 46 first-half points, which was a comfortable 20-point lead at the time. Salhia was named the Player of the Game after scoring an impressive 22 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 21 minutes of play.

All 11 dressed players got a chance to scrape the rust off their skills and see the court during the three games in as many days. There are currently 3 players on Lakehead’s injured list, Anthony McIntosh, Brendan King and Nathan Wainwright.

The second game against the Dikinson State Blue Hawks was another blowout win for the Lakehead men, 80-53. Once again, Salhia and Thomson were working their two-man game, and Joe Hart was the go-to guy, hitting 8 of his 12 three-point attempts, scoring a big 28 points for his team in as many minutes of play.

By halftime, Lakehead had a 41-28 lead. The third quarter saw each team scoring roughly 20 points, which would not be enough for any Dikinson comeback. The 4th quarter was riveting with tight defense and precision shooting.

The T-Wolves’s Carter finished with 10 assists, 7 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals. Joseph Jones came off the bench to contribute 7 points and 5 assists in 21 minutes of playing time. As a team, Lakehead assists made all the difference: 24 to a mere 8 for Dikinson. Coach Morrison was impressed with the strong defense and hoped to continue working on weak-side rotations.

The team finished strong in an 84-67 victory over the Winnipeg Wesmen to claim the tournament banner. The game was hard-fought, and the half-time score was a close 32-27 for the T-Wolves. Matt Schmidt made a huge contribution to his team’s victory in the 3rd quarter when he scored a string of 11 Lakehead points to establish a lead that Winnipeg could not overcome.

Coach Morrison was pleased with the level of play over the course of the tournament, stating, “Winnipeg is a tough team and I thought our guys rose to the challenge.”

Yoosrie Salhia won the tournament MVP award and Ryan Thomson was named to the all-star team.

This talented men’steam returns to conference play in the New Year.

Women’s basketball downed in Halifax

Holiday basketball was the name of Lakehead’s game as the Thunderwolves women traveled to Halifax to compete in host Saint Mary’s CIS Holiday Classic.

The women, who are 7-10 overall, played against Dalhousie, St. Francis Xavier, and Saint Mary’s. Coach Jon Kreiner had hoped this tournament would be a chance to get back into “league play shape” and regain the momentum that was lost over the holiday break.

The women lost their first game 77-52 to the Dalhousie Tigers. After lagging behind 21-12 in the first quarter, the women snapped into focus and out-scored the Tigers 23-22 in the second, resulting in a 43-35 deficit at halftime.

Unfortunately, Lakehead couldn’t keep this pace. The second half saw a 17-0 Tigers run to create too large a gap for Lakehead to overcome. Carolyn Fragale and Lindsay Inkila were the Thunderwolves’s top-scorers of the game with 10 points each. Neither team was able to nail their long-range shots, with the ‘Wolves hitting 21% of their attempts while Dalhousie hit just 13%.  Coach Kreiner found himself disappointed by the Thunderwolves’ “struggle to match Dalhousie’s intensity and rebounding.”

Game two was closer with the Thunderwolves defeated 71-63 by the St. Francis Xavier X-Women. Lakehead came out with a bang with a 15-13 lead after just ten minutes. The two teams played evenly with lots of back and forth for the remainder of the first half, St. FX leading by a single basket at the break.

In the third quarter, St. FX made a run to extend their lead to 10, and though Lakehead would play tough offensively, they never regained their lead. Kelsey Bardsley kept the hope alive by finding her shooting touch late in the game from long-range; she finished with 8 points. Ayse Kalkan made 2 important assists in the fourth quarter, and was the top-scorer for Lakehead with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Saint Mary’s Huskies (ranked #4 CIS) handled the Thunderwolves 82-55. The home team got out to a strong 20-9 lead after the first quarter, and the game didn’t look promising for the ‘Wolves by halftime, as they were losing 42-22. With a 10 point burst in the third quarter the women were able to get the lead down to 14, but would get no closer. Bardsley was the Lakehead superstar scoring 17 points and four rebounds in just 20 minutes of play. Ashley Randall had 11 points, and Ayse Kalkan and Carolyn Fragale had six points and five assists each. Kalkan was awarded a tournament all-star.

Coach Kreiner was impressed by the women’s ability to focus by seeking to improve for the future: “We did a much better job at competing, moving the ball and defending. . . . This weekend was great for our program as we get ready for league play next weekend vs. Waterloo.”

Though no wins were found in Halifax, the women will resume their season in the new year.