by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
It was once stated somewhere that in basketball, if you are down 35-40 points entering the final quarter, that the odds of coming back to win are 10 million-to-one.
So what would be the odds of coming back down 12 points with 1:13 remaining in regulation?
The Lethbridge Kodiaks tested that theory in their opening game at the 2016-2017 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Men's Basketball National Championship at Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island last Thursday evening when they played the Nomades de Montmorency (RSEQ).
With the score 83-71 in favour of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec conference representative, who would go on to win the CCAA gold medal two days later, a Kodiaks' Grady Taylor jumper with 57 seconds remaining would close the gap to 83-73.
A Nomades free throw by Blondeau Tchoukuiegan would make it an 11-point spread with only 43 ticks on the clock.
With only 35 second left, Kodiaks Chris Maughan scored on a layup to bring the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) squad within nine points 84-75.
Picking up the D with Gaalen Van Pierce stealing the ball, the fourth-year 6-foot-2 guard from Foremost, Alberta makes the basket and draws a foul with the preceding free throw completing the three-point play.
Its 84-78 in favour of the Quebec side with 33 seconds to go.
Forcing another turnover Maughan drains a three to make it 84-81 with eight clicks left.
Nomades take a timeout.
Unable to get a steal on the inbounds Kodiaks Robert Miles fouls Kevin Civil who cans two free throws for his team's final points at 86.
A three pointer by Van Pierce makes it an 86-84 final and the Kodiaks quest for gold was squashed.
Taylor and Milles would each drop 20 for the Kodiaks.
"We have a press we put on that we don't use that much during the (ACAC) season," said Kodiaks head coach Ryan Heggie. "Quebec thought the game was over with their lead and we got some steals.
In the bronze medal qualifier Friday, the Kodiaks, behind a second quarter spurt outscoring their opponents 30-8, cruised to a 91-68 victory against Ontario Colleges Athletic Association's George Brown Huskies 91-68.
Australian import student/athlete Cory Richardson had 20 points, seven rebounds and five steals for the Kodiaks who at one time led as much as 40 points.
In the bronze medal semi-final the Kodiaks, whose last CCAA Men's Basketball medal was a bronze in 2015, tipped off against the host Holland Hurricanes losing 94-89.
"We knew that they might be a little emotionally drained from the night before after losing in the semi-final (93-81) to Sheridan (Bruins) in front of a home crowd and packed house," said Heggie. "There press was a bit of a problem for us with their length and we did not make the best of decisions. But once again our guys did not pack it in."
Miles had 29 points, 11 rebounds and six steals in 36 minutes. Taylor notched 23 points.
The other ACAC rep SAIT Trojans opened the tournament with a high-scoring 113-103 defeat to the host Hurricanes.
In their second game they defeated the Mount Allison Mounties 88-73 while finishing the tournament with a 91-85 loss to the VIU Mariners 91-85.
John Smith had plenty of twine time leading the Trojans in scoring in each game with 32, 26 and 29 points respectively.
"Our goal was to make sure we didn't leave anything on the floor, work as hard as we can and leave here with no regrets," said Trojans head coach Marty Birky following the final game. "We achieved that goal. . . We did some great things in this game, had a rough third quarter but kept clawing our way back. We just gave up some offensive rebounds at bad moments. You can't give up 20 offensive rebounds in a national tournament and expect to win."
"The teams that are here are here every year, we haven't even been to our own conference championship in years and now we're at the national level," continued Birky in his interview with SAIT Trojans Brody Mark, Sports Information & Media Consultant. "We're now going to focus on our school, focus on getting our bodies back to full strength and then we're going to get to work on next year."