Concordia wrapped up its season with two blowout wins on the weekend after falling out of the CIS top 10 for the first time since late November.
The Stingers finished first in their conference with a 14-2 record, but suffered a loss to last place Bishop’s on Feb. 10, clearly weighing on the minds of those who vote for the top 10.
If Concordia is looking to send a message to the country, now is the time to do it. Feeling overlooked by the rest of the CIS, the Stingers will have a chance to prove themselves on a national stage—that is, if they can make it out of their conference.
The RSEQ playoffs begin Wednesday against Laval, with Concordia looking to return to the CIS national championship tournament for the second straight year.
Concordia has been dominant against the Quebec schools this year, but a streaking McGill team that seems to be peaking at the right time poses the greatest threat to the Stingers. Right now the teams seem to be on a collision course to meet in the RSEQ finals on Saturday.
However, with the RSEQ playoffs operating on a single-game elimination format, there is no room for error. Overlooking an opponent, like what happened a few weeks ago against Bishop’s, can send even the most talented teams home earlier than expected.
Concordia coach John Dore isn’t taking anything for granted. “At this stage it’s like starting a new season,” he said. “It’s basically a two-game season to see who makes it out of Quebec. I’m happy how we played to close out the season. We’ve approached things one game at a time all year and that’s not going to change.”
If Concordia were to make a return trip to nationals, it would certainly be an underdog in the tournament. Despite the intra-conference success, Concordia has yet to beat an out-of-conference opponent ranked in the CIS top 10. The road to a championship, barring a major upset, will also run through the Carleton Ravens, who completed their season with a perfect record.
Dore is refusing to look that far ahead though, saying his team’s focus is on Wednesday and nothing else.
This year’s playoffs will also be the final time guard Decee Krah and forward James Clark will step on a basketball court in Stingers uniforms. Both players are in their final year of eligibility and a championship would no doubt be the perfect way for them to end their tremendous collegiate careers.
The regular season is over. All of the practices, days at the gym and long bus rides amount to this. A series of do-or-die games for players to achieve the ultimate goal: winning the final game of the season.
And it all starts Wednesday.