After a missing the play-offs last year for the first time in 13 years, the Champlain Cavaliers Men’s Basketball team, under 1st-year head coach Dan Martin (who was named RSEQ Coach of the Year this year), won their 4th Provincial title after defeating Vanier College 80-71 at Montmorency College in Laval.
The Cavaliers had a great season, finishing atop the RSEQ standings with a 14-4 record. Their only loses were to John Abbott and Vanier, going 1-2 with each of them during the season. The 1st place finish had the Cavaliers facing 4th place Dawson in the semi-finals on Saturday afternoon. Having won all 3 games against Dawson this year, the Cavaliers went in strong and it showed on the scoreboard. The Cavaliers took the lead and never relinquished it – holding a 20-5 lead after the 1st quarter. Dawson was never able to slow the Cavaliers’ momentum and the final score was 78-44 for the Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers were going up against Vanier – a team that had lost their last 2 games to – for the RSEQ title. From the outset, the game was a back and forth affair with Vanier taking an early lead in the 1st quarter, 18-12. Champlain stormed back in the 2nd, led by J.J. Hamel-Carey (20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) and Nikita Kasongo (18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists) with key points from the paint and clutch shooting from Nick Harvey and Joany Castor-Thadal the Cavaliers took a 44-40 lead into the half.
After a strong 3rd quarter, the Cavaliers had an 11-point lead heading into the home stretch, but Vanier wasn’t about to give up. Fighting back to within 4 points, Vanier kept pushing but Champlain responded, eventually making key foul shots to extend the lead and secure the win.
The Cavaliers are now getting ready for the 2015 CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championships that are being held at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario from March 19-21. It will be the Cavaliers 8th appearance at Nationals since 2001 and they brought home 3 medals (1 silver in 2009 and 2 bronze in 2006 and 2008). Champlain is going in ranked #6 and will play the OCAA champions and host team Mountaineers next week. Good luck to the players, coaches and staff!