The Duckworth Centre was packed from Dec. 28 to Dec. 30 as youth community, high school and university teams competed for their respective basketball championship titles as part of the University of Winnipeg’s 44th Annual Wesmen Classic.
At the university level, the Wesmen men’s team placed second. However, despite the loss in the championship game, the tournament was a learning experience for the squad.
After a tough first half of the season, the Wesmen gained confidence from their success at the Classic, according to fifth-year captain Nick Lother.
“We are finally figuring out what it takes to put together 40 minutes,” he said. “When we play with high effort and intensity for the entire game we become quite a good team.”
In their first game, on Dec. 28, the Wesmen defeated McMaster 81-65. This sent them to the semi-final game the next day, where they took on cross-town rivals the Manitoba Bisons. The game was close throughout, but the Wesmen controlled the lead from the start. The Bisons made a run in the fourth quarter, but the Wesmen still took the win.
Wesmen post Benny Iko, said the game elevated the team’s play.
“We now have the confidence to know that we can close out close games and be competitive no matter who the opponent is,” he said.
In the championship game, the Wesmen took on defending CIS champions the Saskatchewan Huskies. It was a competitive match but, in the end, the Huskies defeated the Wesmen 80-60.
Head coach Mike Raimbault was pleased with the Wesmen’s performance in the Classic.
“The tournament was positive for us in that we put together three solid outings and did some good things as a group,” he said. “Hopefully we can take some momentum from it into conference play now.”
Published in Volume 65, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 13, 2011)