Hard-won game sends WolfPack men further than ever before in playoffs
Last year, the WolfPack men’s basketball team made it to the playoffs for the first time in history, only to lose in the first round of post-season play. This year, the team was happy to make it one step further when they defeated the University of Winnipeg Wesmen and won their first ever play-in series.
The ‘Pack defeated the Wesmen on Friday, Feb. 19 by eight points and won narrowly (by one point) on the following night.
Both the ‘Pack and the Wesmen were fighting to stay in the playoffs, which made for an intense Saturday night, with scoring to match.
“We’re pretty confident that we’re able to handle battle-type games,” said captain Reese Pribilsky.
“We just think that if we can make it a close game in the last two minutes, we’re used to being in those situations and know we can be successful.”
Pribilsky scored the team’s last lay-up of the game, with 55 seconds left on the clock, to give the ‘Pack a 62-58 lead.
The Wesmen fought back but came up one point short of the tie, losing 62-61.
“It’s great to get our first playoff wins as a CIS institution,” said head coach Scott Clark. “Winning a playoff series was quite big. I think the guys are really excited about continuing on this journey of the season.”
The win was particularly special for Joe Davis and Josh Mayorga, the two rookies who had to step up when forwards Tallon Milne and Josh Wolfram fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“I think it’s pretty special for them to be able to be out on the floor, but also it bodes well for us in the future that we have some guys that are ready to step up.
“[Mayorga] had a couple of key baskets and key rebounds for us which really helped us secure the win,” Clark said.
The head coach said that it’s not uncommon for either Milne or Wolfram to foul out of a game, but it is unusual for them to both foul out in the same game.
Losing Milne and Wolfram was a blow, Pribilsky said, but the ‘Pack had home court advantage.
“The crowd was a big part of it. They were loud and they gave us a bunch of momentum and a bunch of energy. It’s a huge advantage to be at home and have a crowd like that,” Pribilsky said.
The Wesmen’s loss takes them out of the playoffs and advances the WolfPack to the quarter finals, where they will play against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies – the team that defeated the ‘Pack in their first round of post-season play last year.
“It would definitely feel good to beat them and a little extra added because we lost to them last year,” Pribilsky said.
The ‘Pack heads to Saskatoon this weekend to try to advance through another playoff round.