Following a 92-86 win against Laval on Saturday night, the Stingers are now tied with the Rouge et Or for first place in the Quebec conference.
The game started out with the tip-off win and a lay up from by Stinger Decee Krah. Laval’s Etienne Labrecque quickly tied it up at 2-2. James Clark, with the ball under the net, laid it up from behind for a two-point lead again. Two more baskets and a three pointer from Laval’s Jean-FranÃ§ois Beaulieu-Maheux gave Laval the lead. The Stingers were having a difficult time penetrating Laval’s defence until Kyle Desmarais and Clark teamed up for two more baskets.
But it barely proved to be enough, and when they failed to sink baskets from outside the key, the only option seemed to be forcing fouls and go for the free throws. With two minutes left in the first, Desmarais knocked down another basket, bringing the score to a close 15-13. The Stingers started to pressure the Laval offence the same way they had been pressured the whole game and gave Laval no choice but to go for three-pointers.
After one free throw by Desmarais that left Concordia trailing by only one point, Laval’s Hughes Ryan sank a three-pointer. Desmarais threw one right back and got three more points with back and forth cuts from his teammates. Clark passed from behind his back to teammate Kafil Eyitayo, who was fouled and made his two free throws. With one minute left the Stingers now led by one point at 19-18. Laval’s Beaulieu-Maheux got another basket, and the Stingers started to get frustrated and sloppy, giving Laval the chance to rack up free throw points. By the end of the first quarter, the Stingers were behind 21-19.
Desmarais ran the length of the court and saw Jean-Andre Moussignac open, who made two points to tie the game.
Laval’s Kevin Crevant got two points and Evens Laroche matched them. A fast-paced, back-and-forth lead between the two teams took over most of the game until Laval got desperate and started to lose their cool, while the Stingers remained tactical and found a way to break the Rouge et Or. Taylor Garner came fresh off the bench to put up two consecutive baskets to give the team a sizable lead.
With three minutes left on the clock, the Stingers were leading by 10 points at 39-29. A glimpse of panic came over them when Laval got two quick three-pointers, but Desmarais and Moussignac matched them, evoking an eruption of shouts from the crowd. Morgan Tajfel finished the first half of the game with a breakaway and two more points, and the score was 51-40.
Laval started the second half with some fight, adding seven points to the scoreboard. Krah saw Clark open in a good position and they made their first basket of the half. Clark faked to one side then sunk the lay up for another basket. With Laval on their heels, Desmarais tried to keep the energy up. Moussignac made a three-pointer, and a foul on Clark gave them a four-point lead at 60-56 with three minutes left. Desmarais, Laroche and Krah finished the quarter with a basket each and Concordia extended their lead to 66-58.
Stinger Zach Brisebois, after a good contribution defensively throughout the whole game, delivered a basket to start off the final quarter. Desmarais rebounded and got the ball to Krah at the three-pointer line. After the time out, Krah saw the perfect opportunity to pass to an open Laroche and an alley-oop allowed him to slam dunk adding two more points to the scoreboard. Clark got an opportunity for more free throws, Krah made another exciting three-pointer, and Laroche grabbed as many chances as he could to steal the ball from the Rouge et Or.
With three minutes left in the game, the Stingers had a strong lead at 86-71. When the referees started to whistle more frequently, Laval got a few more opportunities to rack up points on free throws. Rouge et Or’s Jean-Philippe Renaud closed out the game’s scoring, but the Stingers walked away with a 92-86 win.
Stinger head coach John Dore said that his team “closed well, but they held the lead most of the game” and that he was very happy about the end result. His players played with “poise” and had very “good defence.” They came in the second part with a lot more confidence. Dore said he was very proud of his team even though they are a relatively “new and young” team, they were up against “a team who has been playing together for three to four years.”
Forward James Clark said that he is “not worried at all. We’ve established good team chemistry on and off the court, and all our young guys are very skilled and contribute whenever they get the chance to do so.”
Both Clark and Dore are very confident in their chances to win the conference this year, and beating one of the top teams should send out that message.
The Stingers will spend their New Year’s Eve playing in the Rod Shoveller Tournament at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S. Their next league game will be in Quebec City, against Laval, Jan. 7.