The men’s basketball team came out on top of a nail-biter Saturday night, as they won the 45th annual Concordia-Nike tournament by a score of 73-72 against the New York Institute of Technology Bears.
The win marks the sixth time in 10 years that the Stingers take the championship game.
Concordia got off to a good start, scoring 13 points in the first three minutes. Fourth-year forwards James Clark and Decee Krah, who was also tournament MVP, combined for eight of those points.
After taking a time out, NYIT picked up their play and somewhat closed the gap, but still trailed 21-17 after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw NYIT eventually take the lead for the first time since the opening minute.
But all-star team member Evens Laroche made no mistake on a lay-up after Krah fed him a bounce pass to inbound the ball under the Bears’ net, and the Stingers were back on top 29-28.
The two teams then traded the lead for the remainder of the quarter. Despite being out- scored by one point in the second, the Stingers went into halftime ahead by three points.
With just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, guard Kyle Desmarais’ bounce pass to Laroche, and the ensuing dunk, drew an excited response from his teammates and the crowd alike, tying up the score at 54.
Both Desmarais and Clark saw a reduction in minutes during the third, after amassing three and four fouls respectively.
The Stingers held on to their three-point lead going into the fourth. It took Clark five minutes to foul out of the game, but not before contributing a basket and a block. Laroche scored nine out of 13 points in the quarter.
With just over a minute to go, Concordia led 73-70. Bears forward Kresimir Knez scored just two baskets for the entire game. His first was with 45 seconds to go in the first quarter, and his second came with 36 seconds on the clock in the fourth, to bring the Bears within one point of the championship. But NYIT failed to score, and Concordia squeaked by to clinch the victory.
To reach the championship game, the Stingers first had to get by the Winnipeg Wesmen Friday night. Krah and Desmarais were the two offensive powerhouses for the Stingers, Krah hitting five three-point shots out of seven attempts and finishing with 24 points, and Desmarais scoring 22 points, including six points from the foul line.
The Stingers dominated in the first quarter, but struggled in the second. The first basket for Concordia in the second only came halfway into the quarter. Meanwhile, the Wesmen scored 22 points and led the Stingers 41-40 going into halftime.
The Wesmen held the lead for most of the third quarter. With three minutes left, second- year guard Morgan Tajfel missed a jump shot, Desmarais recuperated the rebound and Tajfel hit a three-pointer to bring the Stingers to within two points of the lead.
That shot would be the last the Stingers made for the quarter, and they went into the final quarter losing 63-54.
Clark scored six points in the opening four minutes of the fourth, including the basket that put the Stingers back on top.
They never lost the lead after that, and took the game 85-80.
“From yesterday to today, we grew up a little bit. We didn’t make as many mistakes,” said head coach John Dore after the final game. “I think our young guys played well defensively. We have to follow the game plan, we can’t deviate, and we’re starting to do that a little bit better.”
The Stingers will be playing a string of tournaments and away games in Ontario and the U.S. before opening the regular season Nov. 12 at Laval.