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Bad blood runs over for Stingers

by Archives January 28, 2004

No one said it was going to be pretty, in fact, most were probably expecting the hard-court showdown at Loyola Gym last Friday between the Concordia Stingers and Laval Rouge et Or basketball squads to get a little nasty.

However, one would have been hard-pressed to predict that this contest, which Laval took 74-64, would get as intense as it did. With a combination of questionable officiating, highly-fueled emotions and a little bit of bloodshed, this rivalry might have turned into more than just a war of basketball talent.

Before things got out of control it’s important to make one thing clear: this was one heck of a ball game. These teams, both ranked in the top five in the country, showed how they got where they are as each displayed great perseverance and teamwork.

Actually, the early going gave Laval a chance to show just how effortlessly they can dominate a game when unchallenged.

By punishing the Stingers on the boards at both ends and getting some big points from the three-point line the Rouge et Or built up a 13-4 lead less than six minutes in. It didn’t hurt their cause that Concordia only managed one field-goal in the first eight minutes.

Laval would eventually build their lead to what appeared to be an insurmountable 21-6 margin. But instead of cuing the beginning of the end this would turn into a shocking comeback.

Lead by a couple of gritty baskets from third-year forward Patrick Perrotte, focused play by Captain Philippe Langlois and a complete effort from the entire roster, Concordia would cut it to a 43-36 deficit at halftime. “Just the fact that we came back shows what we can do against this team if we play well for a whole game,” Jonathan Dresner, a fifth-year forward, said.

The Stinger defence that had started to recover at the end of the first 20 minutes continued to turn up the heat on the opposition. Langlois would eventually put in a lay-up shot to give his team their first lead of the game six minutes in at 45-44.

While Concordia looked poise to build a confident lead, Laval was busy self-destructing with errant passing and a slew of brutal misses on what should have been easy buckets. But despite getting up 58-53 the Stingers couldn’t manage to permanently shut down the Rouge et Or.

Both teams turned to their clutch players as the score stood tied 60-60 with less than five minutes remaining.

Stepping up for Concordia was Ratsko Popovic who drilled a three-pointer.

However, Samuel Audet-Sow hit a three of his own in transition for a 64-63 Laval advantage.

That was followed up moments later by a lay-up shot, which would prove to be the game-winning bucket, from Charles Fortier. Unfortunately, on his way down from the shot Fortier caught Concordia centre Daniel Lacasse with an elbow to the head that caused profuse bleeding and forced him out of the game for a few moments. “Laval is the most physical team in the league,” Concordia head coach John Dore said, “and we got a little frustrated with the way things were going.”

Not only did Concordia suddenly become plagued with an inability to get any of their shots to drop but the officials were busy doing their part to help Laval extend their lead.

The most brutal officiating went against Popovic, who in final moments when Concordia was still within in reach, got called for a foul when a Laval player tripped on his own feet. That all but buried the match as Concordia was forced to foul out the rest of the way.

But the on-court drama wasn’t done yet as the teams lined-up to shake hands.

A couple of quick shoves turned into a couple of quick swings as everyone from both teams got involved in a violent tussle. Fortunately things would settle down before anyone did any damage to anyone else.

“We got a little frustrated with that game. But it shows that we can still give those guys a tough game without playing really well,” Perrotte said.

The Stingers are now ranked fifth in the country and will play Laval in Quebec on Feb.6 as they still have an outside shot of capturing home-court advantage through the provincial playoffs.

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