How much can happen in just a minute? It’s a saying we often use but don’t usually take to heart.
At the Concordia Gym last Friday night, it took the Stingers and the Laval Rouge et Or “just a minute” to turn what began as a close game into a classic nail-biter.
Evens Laroche, in his first game back after being out with an ankle injury, scored with six seconds left to give the Stingers an 87-85 win.
“I’m at 90 per cent, but I still feel good. It was an important game and I came in and did the best I could,” he said after the game. His best amounted to 14 points and seven rebounds.
Going in, both teams had 9-3 records and each boasted two of the top four scorers in the conference on their roster.
The win put Concordia in a tie with Laval for first place, and after beating UQAM on Saturday night, the Stingers are now in sole possession of first.
“The mood before the game was that it’s a playoff game,” explained Kyle Desmarais, who scored 19 points. “We’ve got to win the rest of our games if we want to finish first.”
Concordia got off to a slow start in the first quarter. Laval had a 19-7 lead when head coach John Dore called a timeout with about five minutes left to play.
What did he say to his team to get them going?
“Focus, calm down a little bit [â€¦] they got off to a really good start, and just to tighten up on defence a little, help each other a little bit more and play well together,” he explained.
The Stingers got back into the game and led 22-21 by the end of the first.
Laval took the lead after Ã‰tienne Labrecque hit a three-pointer, but Laroche answered back with a three of his own to put Concordia back on top. The Stingers wouldn’t relinquish their lead until seven minutes into the third quarter, when Laval’s Jean-FranÃ§ois Beaulieu Maheux made two jump shots in a row, giving them a 57-55 lead.
Laval led for the rest of the third and into the fourth until Stinger Decee Krah, who led the team with 27 points, attempted a three-pointer but missed. He recovered his own rebound, and passed to Morgan Tajfel, who hit his three and tied the game.
Tajfel, who broke his nose last week in a win against UQAM, had to wear a mask to protect his nose.
“The mask kind of impedes my vision but if I’m out there, I’ve got to play the same way,” he explained. “So I was open, took the shot and it went in.”
With 59 seconds left in the game, the Stingers were ahead but Marvin Vebobe, who was fouled by Tajfel, sank one of two shots to make the score 84-83.
After being fouled by Xavier Baribeau, Laroche made one of two shots and gave Concordia back its two-point lead.
Laval, trying to run down the clock, passed back and forth before getting the ball to Beaulieu Maheux, who attempted a three-pointer but missed. Vebobe grabbed the rebound and put it up to tie the game at 85 with six seconds left.
Concordia was awarded possession of the ball at half court. Stinger Jean-Andre Moussignac inbounded the ball to a wide open Laroche, who went for the layup, turned around and watched the ball fall into the net, giving the Stingers an 87-85 lead.
With just three seconds left on the clock, JÃ©rÃ´me Turcotte-Routhier passed across the court to Labrecque, who took a three-point shot that would have won the game for the Rouge et Or.
The crowd erupted into cheers when the shot went just wide.
According to Dore, the plan for the next night’s game against UQAM was to “win,” which they did with a score of 76-66.
Desmarais and Krah led the way once again with 23 and 21 points respectively.
The Rouge et Or have three games left while Concordia has only two, and it may prove to be harder for Laval to get back into first than for Concordia to stay there. Two of their three games are against UQAM, a team that has given them trouble this season.
The Stingers will play McGill, who has beaten them in their last two meetings, for the last time this Saturday, Feb. 19. The game starts at 8 p.m.