THUNDER BAY – Sports – The Lakehead University Thunderwolves men’s basketball team travels this weekend to the CIS Final 8, their third appearance in as many years. It should be noted that the ‘Big Dance’ of Canadian university basketball turns 50 this year, and what better place than its steadfast home of Halifax to host the birthday celebration. Lakehead (seeded #4) has shown improved success at this tournament in its recent appearances and hopes to continue that trend on Friday morning in the Halifax Metro Center. Their opponent: The University of Fraser Valley Cascades. This will be the third straight year that Lakehead has faced a B.C. opponent in the first round of the CIS Final 8 (UBC, ’10, Trinity Western, ’11- both losses).
Seeded #5, the Cascades earned their berth in the CIS Final 8 tournament by finishing as Canada West finalists, losing 72-71 to the #2 seeded Alberta Golden Bears in the gold medal game. Prior to that UFV knocked out the University of Victoria Vikes, 63-62, in the Canada West semi-final hosted by U of Saskatchewan. Seemingly with a panache for nail-biters, UFV also won the game prior to that by 1 point (Game 3 play-off versus Lethbridge, 69-68).
Fraser Valley (13-5 reg. season, ranked CIS # 4 in February) is an athletic team with five 4th-year veterans and one 5th-year senior, which averaged 83.4 points per game. Leading in scoring is 6’4″ guard Joel Friesen with 16.0 per game, followed by 6’3″ guard Samuel Freeman (15.0 ppg) and 6’6″ post Kyle Grewal (14.3 ppg), who also grabs 7.3 rebounds/game. Fellow big man Jasper Moedt is another active body on the glass with 7.6 rpg and 11.0 ppg.
Lakehead will have to try and break the ‘B.C. hex’ that has dogged them without the services of starting power forward Ryan Thomson, who was declared out for the season prior to the OUA Final Four last week. Lakehead’s bench has shown the capability all season to step up when 3,4 or even 5 T-Wolves have fallen to injury. For the sake of redeeming themselves after the OUA Final Four, the Thunderwolves still running with ‘The Pack’ must pull the Lakehead Locomotive all for one and one for all in this first round match-up.
Coach Scott Morrison shares, “We are excited to again compete for the nation’s biggest basketball prize on the biggest stage this week in Halifax. Everyone’s route to the dance is different yet the same in the fact that everyone here is capable of going on a run and winning the whole thing. Our team is focused solely on Friday afternoon and Fraser Valley- we’re looking to give our best effort as a team and leave everything we have on the court.”
Time: 12 noon local (11am EST)
Venue: Halifax Metro Center
Webcast Coverage: SSN Canada – www.ssncanada.ca/games
CIS Final 8 Schedule (all times Atlantic)
All games will be webcast on SSN Canada – www.ssncanada.ca/games
The semi-finals and championship broadcast will be picked up by Shaw Cable 10 in T Bay (based on technical congruences with East Link TV – stay tuned)
Friday, March 9
(5) Fraser Valley (4) Lakehead 12:00 PM AST
(8) Acadia (1) Carleton 2:15 PM AST
(7) Ryerson (2) Alberta 6:00 PM AST
(6) St FX (3) Concordia 8:15 PM AST
Saturday, March 10
CIS consolation 1 12:00 PM AST
CIS consolation 2 2:15 PM AST
CIS semifinal 1 6:00 PM AST
CIS semifinal 2 8:15 PM AST
*Turn your clock ahead on Saturday night to Daylight savings time*
Sunday, March 11
CIS consolation final 11:00 AM ADT
CIS bronze 1:15 PM ADT
CIS final 4:30 PM ADT