With the unveiling of last year’s championship banners, the men’s and women’s St.Thomas basketball teams started life in the Lady Beaverbrook gym with two very convincing wins over The University of King’s College Blue Devils on Saturday.
“The new gym is going to be great for the program and for our team. Everyone’s very excited to play here this year, and hopefully will bring the same success we had at the South Gym to the pit,” said head women’s head coach Fred Connors.
A new era began for the women, as they played their first regular season game in their new home this weekend. At least for one game, the success they’ve had at the South gym in the past few years carried over to the Lady Beaverbrook as they dominated UKC 85-58.
Last weekend in pre season, the Tommies played the Blue Devil’s in what was a one sided affair for St.Thomas. King’s College looked out of sync all game, without really mustering any momentum throughout the entire forty minutes. This game would be a bit different.
The Tommies came out very hard in the first quarter in front of a packed crowd at the new gym. The first 10 minutes, the Blue Devils could not get anything going against the tough defence. The starting line up for St.Thomas kept all of King’s Colleges shots to the outside with plenty of bodies ready for the rebounds.
The second quarter was a different story, as The Blue Devils got out to a great star, mainly because of the timely scoring from Bhreagh Moore who had eight in the quarter. Everything that was working for the Tommies in the first 10 minutes seemed to have disappeared in the second 10. St. Thomas only outscored King’s College by two in the quarter, and took a 37-25 point lead into the half. Kelly Vass was a huge reason for the lead, with her lights out shooting from behind the arc in the first twenty.
The third quarter was where the Tommies started to push away on the scoreboard and they never looked back . One of the main points for this was their 45% shooting from the three point line, including four of them coming from the LeBlanc sisters, Danielle and Renee. Kathleen McCann also chipped in out of the post with 13 points and three offensive rebounds in the win.
Second year guard Kelly Vass picked up player of the game with an impressive 26 points in the season opener. With this win, the Tommies picked up right where they left off last season.
In between the women’s and men’s game, there was a ceremony held to unveil the four banners the teams combined to win last year.
They both came away with the ACAA championship banners and bronze banners at the National tournament. It was the most successful year in St.Thomas basketball history, and sports coordinator Eric Moffat made that very clear in his speech.
“I think it’s the humble honour of the achievements of our programs from last year… Countless hours of practice and numerous battles against their peers… I think it’s an honour to be able to hang a tight knit group’s achievement to display for those who may not have witnessed it,” said Moffat about the success of last year.
The men could have let the ceremony take away from their play in the season opener, but that wasn’t the case at all on Saturday as they romped to a 70-46 win.
Without last year’s athlete of the year Nathan Mazurkiewicz, the team would have to play a more complete game if they wanted to come away with the win.
Like the women, the men started off the first quarter a little shaky with some bad turnovers that kept King’s College right there with them. It was a tight affair with the Tommies coming away with a 16-15 point lead. Calvin Williams was stroking the hot hand in the first quarter with eight points.
The second quarter was the Jason Daniels show as he hit 16 points, with 12 of them coming from downtown. This gave St.Thomas the momentum they were lacking in the first quarter. Lonzel Lowe and Dave Dolan were huge in the post stopping any attack the Blue Devils brought their way. Also, they both ended the game with over ten rebounds. The Tommies went into the locker room with a 37-32 lead.
The Tommies started the third quarter with a scare, as fourth year player Corey Delong went down with what looked like a serious leg injury. Lucky for himself and the team, he was only out for a bit and returned looking fine. St.Thomas kept the same energy they had going into the break in the third quarter. The defence was incredible as they only allowed the Blue Devils to score eight points in the quarter.
The fourth quarter began with Blue Devils J.J Wilson doing everything he could to get his team back in the game, but it was a bit too late. The Tommies kept rolling fresh bodies in and out of the game as they ended the game with a 33-14 run.
Jason Daniels was named player of the game with an impressive 25 points in his first game back with the team in over a year. Lonzel Lowe also fit in nicely with his new teammates, and made a point in the post that nothing was going to be easy. It was a great way to start of the new campaign and facility.
The lady Tommies were victorious again Sunday afternoon as they beat the MSVU 73-43 to move to 2-0 on the season. STU’s Sam Wilson was named player of the game.