With all the expectations surrounding their upcoming season, the Concordia Stingers men’s basketball team had to make a good early impression this past weekend in the annual Concordia Nike Tournament. They did just that by winning it.
The four-team competition also included the Southern Vermont Mountaineers, RMC Paladins and Toronto Varsity Blues. The Stingers were in a position of leverage after winning the tourney last year and quickly showed that not much has changed since then.
In Friday night’s opening night match-ups the Maroon and Gold easily handled the Blues in a 92-77 victory and were led by an outstanding 31-point effort from forward Patrick Perrotte. In the meantime the Mountaineers were busy edging out the Paladins by a 58-51 score to advance to the final against ConU.
The second day of the tournament kicked-off on Saturday with Toronto outlasting RMC with a tight 58-55 finish to win the tournaments’ consolation game.
This was followed by the championship tilt where Concordia would come out with an overpowering 83-64 win over Southern Vermont. “We have a lot of new guys out there and its good for them to see how it feels to win,” Stinger Captain Philippe Langlois said, “that was a big building stone for us.”
Although the final score would indicate that the match was of little contest for the Stingers, the situation wasn’t always a secure one.
In what could be best described as a streaky first half, the Maroon and Gold opened the game with an overwhelming offensive burst by taking a 18-4 just five minutes into the game.
The run was sparked by Perrotte, guard Ratsko Popovic and guard Jonathan Dresner who would combine for 33 of the team’s 35 first-half points and 66 in total.
While the Stingers were busy showing-off their offensive prowess, the Mountaineers looked weak with multiple turnovers and relying heavily on second-chance opportunities.
Things looked good after an 22-8 run put Concordia in a cushy 27-10 lead. Then the tires temporarily flattened out on the team. First Perrotte was taken out of the game by Coach John Dore after earning his second foul. There were also several line changes that gave Vermont an opening.
The Mountaineers then let their size take over as they finally cashed in on their five players that scale six-foot-six or more (Concordia only has one) by putting together a stunning 17-0 run to tie the game.
Now, taking advantage of those second chances, they rallied behind centre Sean Key who led the team with 19 points.
Other major contributors were forwards Douglas Hammond, Cortney Denson and Loren Johnson who started to penetrate the Stinger defence with ease. “I was shocked at that but it also showed that we can stay focused and come back,” Langlois commented.
Fortunately the home team got their second wind after Johnson missed, what looked an easy finger-roll, for what would have been Southern Vt.’s first lead of the game.
Instead Concordia would bring the play back up the court where Dresner would drill a huge three-pointer to put his team up 30-27. The basket would be part of seven straight Stinger points scored by Dresner to help the team escape the half with a 35-32 lead.
The dramatic shifts in play of the first did provide some entertaining competition. However, the fans really got they wanted in the second half as the Stingers offence erupted with the return of Perrotte to the game. The man who would later be named the tournament’s most valuable player lit up the floor with 18 points in the half for a game-high 28. Dresner and Popovic each added another 8 points to help the cause as the Stingers successfully worked from the inside the paint and the outside from the arc.
Although they came out with another decent offensive half, the Mountaineers suffered a rash of fouls that opened the door for the ensuing outburst.
While Perrotte was busy accepting his MVP honours, Stinger Captain Phil Langlois was also named a tournament all-star.
“We need to keep growing and going through the learning process,” Dore said, “We have good people in this program and we do what we have to do to take care of business.”