The Stingers men’s basketball team was unable to end their regular season on a strong note, falling to Laval 104-100 in their longest game in more than 13 years.
Before the game even started, the Stingers honoured five-year veteran Pierre Thompson by giving him his original jersey, number 12, framed as a gift. Thompson, who currently wears number seven, was forced to change numbers when Concordia switched from CIS to International Basketball Federation rules. After the game, Concordia head coach John Dore said that “[the jersey] was given as a token of our appreciation for everything [Thompson] has done for the program over a five-year period,” adding that Thompson is “a very good student and a great representative of the university.”
Forced to play with only nine players due to injuries and other issues, the Stingers still managed to get out to an early advantage, taking a 45-35 lead into the halftime break. They were led in scoring by guard Decee Krah, whose dynamic play and excellent three-point shooting gave him 34 points for the game and allowed his team to stay in it so long.
Both teams got off to a slow start in the second half, with Laval scoring the quarter’s first field goal over three minutes in and Concordia not managing one until two minutes later. Sloppy defensive play and a few offensive miscues by the Stingers allowed Laval to crawl back into the game in the third, as they ended the quarter down by only one point.
With time running out in the fourth and final quarter, neither the Stingers nor the Rouge et Or were able to close this one out. Thanks to some aggressive play in the offensive zone, the Stingers were able to force a loose ball turnover, but with ten seconds left they were unable to put it away so they sent the game into the first overtime.
The first overtime was rather back and forth, and with under a minute left and the score tied, a turnover by Concordia gave Laval a chance to come back in. After the shot clanked off the rim, Concordia came up with the rebound and was almost immediately called for a questionable travelling, sending a chorus of boos throughout the crowd. After getting the ball back and with eight seconds left, the Stingers turned the ball over again and the time ran out with the score still tied, sending the game into yet another overtime.
As the buzzer rang at the end of the second overtime period it appeared that Laval had finally managed to end the game, but it was eventually ruled the shot came after the buzzer, forcing a third and final overtime. With the time dwindling down and Laval needing a win to secure a two seed and a home playoff game they were able to pull out the victory, despite excellent offensive play from the Stingers end.
Aside from Krah’s 34 points, both pregame honouree Thompson and centre James Clark contributed 18 points. In addition, every Stingers player scored at least one point.
While Laval might have needed the game to secure home-court advantage, the Stingers, already eliminated from the playoffs, were merely playing for pride. Dore said after the game that “[the Stingers] were trying to hang in there but the longer the game went on the tougher it was for us,” adding that Laval’s size and strength might have worn them down in the game’s final minutes.
Despite a rough season, Dore was able to remain optimistic about next year, saying that his team played much better in their last few games and that they must “get over that hurdle [of losing close games] to be better next year.” Dore said the Stingers need to improve in a lot of positions, specifically citing size and strength as well as getting a new ball-handler to replace Thompson.
Dore believes that the Stingers have “a strong nucleus coming back,” he remains optimistic about the chances of the team improving on a tough season, that came after winning the Quebec championship just a year before.