If it wasn’t clear at the start of the season, there can be no questioning it now. Quebec is a two-team province when it comes to university basketball.
With an easy 105-91 road win against the McGill Redmen on Friday night followed by an equally impressive 82-63 mopping of the Bishop’s Gaiters the next day, the Concordia Stingers took another huge step as provincial and national contenders.
“We’re always building on our last game and trying to improve every night. Now our goal is to go to the Nationals,” Captain Phil Langlois said.
The winning weekend was of little surprise as it provided the Maroon and Gold with their sixth straight win. There was an added bonus though, as the squad now sits as the #10 ranked team in Canada.
The win against McGill, marked the first time in four years that Concordia cracked the century mark in a regular season game as six players hit double digits. Leading efforts came courtesy of Jonathan Dresner, who finished with 26 points and third-year guard Chris Blackwood chipped in 23 points.
After being a virtual non-factor in the team’s first five games of the year, the 5’7 Blackwood used this past weekend as a launching pad to showcase his skills. The dismantling of McGill was just the start.
Squaring-off against Bishop’s proved to be a greater challenge than expected as an early second-half slump from the Stingers would eventually be overcome with an overpowering offensive.
After both teams got off to a slow start, Concordia used their speed to distance themselves from the opposition.
The early-going was highlighted by a Ratsko Popovic three-pointer that gave the host Stingers an 18-10 lead. Despite another three form Popovic moments later,
Bishop’s was looking good to keep the deficit out of the double-digits.
However, thanks to a 12-2 run that was capped-off by an off-balance three from Blackwood, the home team found themselves in a comfortable 37-23 lead. Bishop’s was able to cut the lead to nine points thanks to a brief rally but would trail 41-30 heading into halftime.
Unfortunately the cushy lead would evaporate within a matter of minutes as the Gaiters came out like gangbusters in the second half.
The Stingers looked flushed as a shocking offensive surge from the visiting team, ending with a 3-pointer from forward Cam McDonald, squared the contest at 44-44 little over four minutes in. But that’s where it ended.
The rest of the half belonged to the Maroon and Gold as every man on the floor stepped up with big plays at both ends of the court.
This included a pair of threes from Blackwood and Langlois, who added six points as part of an 18-1 run, to rebuild the lead to a 62-45 advantage. “We realized we had 15 minutes left and had to play some team defence,” said Langlois who finished tied with a game-high 19 points.
Concordia used their long-range sharp-shooting to bury any chance of another Bishop’s comeback as Popovic and Blackwood each added another three to their tally. From there Concordia was able to coast to an 83-64 win.
After finishing with a game-high 19 points, Blackwood admitted that it was time for him to raise his game to a new level. “The playoffs are coming up and I’m one of the guys that really had to step up my game.”
The Toronto native also seems to possess a mature mindset. “We approach every game like a day on a job.
We go in, handle our business and leave.”
Pushing their record up to an impressive 6-1, the Stingers now sit tied with the Laval Rouge et Or atop the Quebec standings. Laval is ranked as the nation’s fourth best team.
The Stingers look prepped to make another jump in the rankings as games against Bishop’s and UQAM this weekend should be of little challenge. Then they will focus on Jan. 23 when they play host to Laval.