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Stingers inch closer to Nationals

by Archives March 3, 2009

From head coach John Dore to his players, there was one word to describe the reason they got off to a quick start in their semi-final game against the McGill Redmen: defence. The Stingers used great play in their own end to fuel a 19-4 run to open the game they eventually won 80-63.
“That’s what we wanted,” said Stingers centre Jamal Gallier of the quick start. “Everything is much easier for us if we get out to an early lead.”
“When you get a stop on defence, you have more opportunities on offence,” said Stingers guard Decee Krah. “If they aren’t going to score, they are not going to have enough time to get back.”
“A lot of guys came in and played great defence,” said Dore. “People often overlook that kind of thing, but we as coaches recognize and appreciate what they do and the work they put in.”
The Stingers had a scare in the final minutes of the game. Damian Buckley, who earlier in the night was recognized for being the unanimous choice for league Most Valuable Player, was hit in the back of the head by a McGill player following a basket. He fell to the floor and lay motionless while being attended to by the team of therapists before eventually getting up and walking to the bench on his own.
According to the Stingers’ coaches, McGill forward Erik Galas elbowed Buckley in the head accidentally as he turned to run up court. Dore said Buckley was “woozy” and he sat out the final minute and a half of the game.
Buckley had 22 points and 10 assists in the game, and Dore didn’t shy away from praise for his top scorer.
“Damian is the best point guard in the country,” Dore said. “He deserves every accolade he gets and he is a great competitor. You watched Damian at the start of the game and you knew he was going to have a great game. That’s the kind of player he is.”
Concordia had a 38-29 advantage in rebounds, and most of that was due to forcing McGill’s top rebounder Michael White to 17 minutes due to foul trouble. In McGill’s lone win against Concordia this year, White had 22 points and 15 rebounds. The less playing time limited him to five and five.
With 4:30 left in the final quarter, McGill started to get on a run and cut the Stingers lead to eight. Dore said he was never worried the game was slipping away.
“It’s a game of runs,” he said. “When they made it close we had some defensive breakdowns and weren’t hustling to the ball.”
Dore pointed out the hustle of McGill forward Sean Anthony who was playing his final career game. Anthony had 17 points and nine rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
“We’re trying to get our guys to work as hard as him to get the loose balls and rebounds,” Dore said.
The win was the Stingers’ eighth in a row, and as they get to their last league game – win or lose – they know time is running out for the road to Nationals.
Gallier, now in his fifth and final year with the Stingers, has the sense of urgency. His career started with a trip to the National championship game, and he desperately wants to get back there for a different result.
“Everyone’s just playing harder,” said Gallier. “We’re all basketball players, it’s the end of the season and we have a very old team so for us it’s now or never.”
Gallier had 12 points and 13 rebounds in the win.
The Stingers now get set for the UQAM Citadins who upset the Laval Rouge et Or in the other Quebec semi-final. The final is set for Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Concordia Gym. The game is expected to be sold out, so it is recommended you secure your tickets in advance by calling (514) 848-2424 ext. 3898.

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