St. Lawrence Vikings will play for the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association men’s basketball championship next weekend, after they won one of four qualifying games Saturday, 90-83 over the Redeemer Royals in Ancaster.
Making their first appearance in the league championship tournament since 2010, the Vikings will meet the host Durham Lords in a quarter-final contest Friday at 8 p.m.
“It was a different and intense environment for us to play in, but the guys shot really well and everyone stepped up tonight,” coach Barry Smith said, in a release.
In a packed Redeemer gym, the Vikings successfully completed almost 58 per cent of their shots from the field, and were good 60 per cent of the time from three-point range. Both statistics were better than those of the home team, which were under 50 per cent in each case.
St. Lawrence trailed 20-17 after the first quarter but the Vikings took an eight-point lead into halftime after holding the Royals to just 12 points in the second period.
The lead was just points going into the fourth quarter but an early 9-2 run gave the Vikings a seven-point advantage. They would need all of it, as Redeemer twice cut the deficit to one point.
Though the Royals never regained the lead, the game remained close into the final minute. After Calvin Dejong hit a three-point basket for Redeemer with just less than a minute remaining, the Vikings led just 80-76.
St. Lawrence replied with a basket by Taylor Reddick, and now the Royals were forced to foul in an attempt to regain possession of the ball. The Vikings replied by making eight of 10 free throws in the final 30 seconds of the game to close the victory.
Donald Gibson, benched at the end of the final regular-season game, responded with a 26-point, six-rebound performance for the Vikings. Andrew Dawkins also scored 26 points, with a 4-for-7 performance from beyond the three-point arc, and he pulled down seven rebounds.
The Vikings got 16 points from Jaz Bains, and 12 off the bench from Reddick, who was 5-for-5 from the field, including 2-for-2 from three-point range.
Brad Richards had a game-best 10 rebounds for St. Lawrence.
Jacob Walda and Calvin Turnbull scored 20 points apiece for Redeemer, which finished the regular year 11-7, good for fourth place in the West division.
The Vikings, 12-8 and the fifth-place team in the East, were one of two teams to post an upset in the qualifying round. Lambton is the other, having whipped Centennial 97-70 in Toronto.
The other qualifiers, Seneca and Fanshawe, will join St. Lawrence, Lambton and the four teams that got automatic entry by virtue of finishing in the top two of their respective divisions—Durham and Georgian from the East, and Humber and Mohawk from the West—in the three-day conference championship tournament in Oshawa.