by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
SAIT Trojans become the first men's basketball team since the NAIT Ooks (2001-2003) to three peat as Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Men's Basketball Champions with a 95-84 victory Saturday evening against the Concordia University of Edmonton Thunder at Lakeland College Gymnasium in Lloydminster, Alberta.
The Trojans, ranked No. 3 in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association polls, advanced to the finals by beating the host team Lakeland College Thunder in their quarterfinal Thursday 98-77 and then the Medicine Hat College Rattlers 112-96 Friday in the semi-final.
The Thunder, ranked No. 8 in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association polls, passed the century mark in their opener 113-80 versus the Ambrrose University Lions while the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings were victims to the Thunder's high-octane offence 100-70 in the semi-final.
In the gold medal match, Thunder held a 25-23 edge after 10 minutes but went into the locker room down 44-42 at the half after Trojans' Ian Tevis converted a three-point play with 1:17 left in the second period.
Both teams had a hard time scoring in the first half of the third period as the Thunder held at 53-52 lead thanks to a three-pointer by Indianapolis, Indiana native Darrelle Bacon with 5:00 remaining.
With less than two minutes remaining in the third period the Trojans would go on a six-point run....a layup and jumper by Tevis and a layup by Nicholas Molina to hold a slim 66-60 advantage.
Tevis would take control of the game in the fourth period with a three at 6:27 for a Trojans 75-72 edge and would follow with a layup 25 seconds later and then a downtown three at 5:20 to go up 80-72.
Tevis would continue the onslaught with yet another layup at 4:55 to secure the 10 point lead 82-72.
John Smith would pick up the offence with back-to-back three pointers at 3:37 and 3:14 giving the Trojans a comfortable 90-77 cushion.
Tevis, a native of Kent, Washington, was not done yet, dropping five free throws in the remaining 50 seconds for a game high 35 points.
Joining Tevis in the attack was Smith with 24 points.
Ronald Bacon jr. had 19 points for the Thunder while Ryan McLaren, who had 35 in the opener and 34 in the semifinal, was held to 17 points.
In the bronze medal match it was University of Alberta Augustana 107-104 in overtime against the Medicine Hat College Rattlers.
"Every one of these guys are awesome; I love them," said Trojans head coach Marty Birky in a post-game interview. "Concordia made us fight for everything we got tonight. . . I couldn't be more happy."
For Trojan guard John Smith it was a "tough tournament," as he continued, "I haven't seen that triple teams like that since playing back home in open gyms. It was a gruelling tournament, but it was fun and so rewarding."
Names Tournament MVP Tevis said in a postgame interview posted on the SAIT Trojans website: ""It's my last year of college, so I had to leave it all out here. I played my heart out. . . I don't have much else to say, to be honest."
"I'm always smiling and having fun, but I didn't have that today. I was focused like I have never been before. . . I worked so hard for this."
Trojans now head off to the 2018-2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Basketball Championships to be held March 13-16, 2019 in Langley B.C. and hosted by Langara College.
First Team All-Star recipients:
Concordia Thunder - #9 Ryan McLaren
Concordia Thunder - #15 Ronald Bacon Jr.
SAIT Trojans - #30 Nicholas Molina
SAIT Trojans - #11 John Smith
Augustana Vikings - #8 Mason Hunter
Second Team All-Star recipients:
Red Deer Kings - #21 Spencer Klassen
Lakeland Rustlers - #2 Artavis Holiday
Medicine Hat Rattlers - #5 Arthur Rosa
Medicine Hat Rattlers - #8 Jaamel Slack
Augustana Vikings - #9 Micael Stasuik