Kyle Morrison, staff
This past weekend the Lakehead University Men’s basketball team travelled to Waterloo to face the Golden Hawks in a huge matchup between the only two remaining 9-1 teams in the OUA.
After two hard-fought games, both teams ended up where they started. Tied. Lakehead took the opening game 88-83, but Laurier managed to fight their way back in game two and take it 92-89. Both teams are now 10-2, still atop the OUA West standings.
Each year the two universities get together for what is now an epic weekend of back-to-back games marked on every basketball player’s calendar, with neither team coming away with a sweep since 2004. Although Laurier had the chance to do so last year, they ended the second game with a loss, giving up a 21-point first-half lead.
“We refer back to that game a lot at half time if we’re in a situation where we have the lead to allow us to sit back,” head coach Peter Campbell said. “Staying focused is something we haven’t always been good (at). Anytime when you’re ahead it’s always more of a challenge to keep your focus, so that’s always an issue. You’ve got to focus on the situation at hand.”
This was not an issue for the men this year, however more consistent rebounding is something coach Campbell is looking for in the second half. One of the keys Campbell stressed in the series with Lakehead was being active on the offensive boards, which was not present in their first-game loss, beaten under the basket 25-11.
Rebounding aside, Laurier is still tied atop the OUA West standings and Campbell was pretty pleased with the first-half performance that got them to this point.
“I’d give them somewhere between a B-plus and an A-minus,” Campbell said.
This mark isn’t far from the grade every team wants in order to take them to the top, however, to get to the top means overcoming obstacles along the way to a title, such as strong competition. Not only is Lakehead also at 10-2, but then McMaster and Windsor are only a game behind at 9-3, with other schools at 7-5 that are definitely capable of upsets.
“We’ve got to come out every day and play every day. That will be a big challenge for all the teams now, not just us.”
Laurier did well to come back with a win at home to finish the series with Lakehead at a win a piece, but it is going to take even more to keep the momentum going through to the finish line.
“We’ve set out targets for ourselves, now it’s up to us to play to that level”.