For the third straight season the Stingers will begin the playoffs as regular season champions. But now comes the tricky part. Concordia must win five straight games to win the national championship for the first time since 1990.
The road to Halifax (site of the national championships) begins Thursday at 7 p.m. at Loyola Gym with the top-seeded Stingers (15-1) hosting the UQAM Citadins (5-11). The Stingers hold a 15-2 lifetime edge over UQAM’s four-year-old basketball program, but both Citadin wins have come in the past five meetings.
The best-of-one provincial semi-final has an air of familiarity with these teams having met in the same playoff game last season.
“We know what to expect from them, and we can’t take them lightly,” Stinger forward Patrick Perrotte says of the underdog Citadins. “When we took them for granted last year, it was a big mistake.”
Redemption may come into play this time; the Stingers trying to erase the memory of last year’s UQAM win. The Citadins went on to represent Quebec at the nationals, and they were the only divisional team to beat Concordia this season.
“We don’t care who we play in the sense that we’ll have to beat the best teams eventually,” Perrotte says. “But personally, to have the chance for revenge is something I’ve thought about.”
This year’s playoff run will also mark the final collegiate games for Perrotte and fellow-Senior Ben Sormonte. Perrotte received his highest-individual honour last week, when he was named the Quebec University Basketball League’s Player of the Year. The Verdun native led Concordia with more than 18 points-per-game, third overall in the province.
Versatile forward Dwayne Buckley was named Defensive Player of the Year, while head coach John Dore was the unanimous choice for Coach of the Year. Perrotte and Buckley were both named to the first all-star team, as was Stinger point guard Damian Buckley. Sormonte was selected as a second-team all-star.
The individual talent is there, but collectively Perrotte says, this team is different than the one that was upset in the first round last year.
“Toward the end of last year, we started to slack off. We won our last few games, only by a few points.”
“This year we wanted to finish strong, and now we have to keep that going.”
The Stingers capped off their disappointing season with a 74-63 loss to Laval last Sunday. The number one ranked team in Quebec women’s university basketball proved to be once again too much for Concordia to handle.
Concordia ended the season with a 5-11 record that put them in last place in the Quebec conference.
The Stingers were just two points shy of tying UQAM for the fourth and final playoff spot.
And while the Stingers convincingly beat UQAM last Friday 58-43, the win was too little, too late.
Concordia has failed to reach the playoffs for the second straight year.
Concordia rookie guard Krystle Douglas was named to the Second All-Star Team. Douglas was the only Stinger named to either All-Star team. She joined three Laval players and one Bishop’s forward on the squad.
Douglas led Concordia in scoring with 13.1 points per game, and a strong 31.9 per cent shooting percentage from 3-point range.
She also recorded Concordia’s highest individual scoring effort this season – 32 points – in a 78-75 Stingers win over Bishop’s on Feb. 2.