Amazing Trip to National Tournament for Thunder Men’s BasketballPosted on: Mar 17, 2014
This past week the Thunder Men’s Basketball team made its first ever trip to the National Championship tournament. This year’s event took place in beautiful Squamish, BC at Quest University.
On Day 1 of the action with the Thunder coming in as the 8th seed, they would face the highly favored #1 Langara Falcons from Vancouver, BC. Able to control the pace early the Thunder would keep it close until an 8-0 run by the Falcons right before half took the 5 point spread up to 13. The Thunder would battle hard until the end but the Falcons proved too strong on this day ending the Thunder’s hope for gold by a final score of 103-77. David Shantz led the way for the Thunder with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Jamaal Bucknor had 21 to go along with 9 rebounds. Dallas Wright added 12 with Liban Abdi-Aziz chipping in with 8 off the bench. “We played against the best player we have all year today in Brody Greig. Once he got their offence going it was hard for us to keep up. He’s the fastest guy with the ball I’ve seen in the CCAA,” remarked Coach Wood. “Regardless of the score we still showed that we could compete with the best. Many things in this game tilted our way but we couldn’t get enough stops in the second half.”
On Day 2, the Holland Hurricanes from Charlottetown, PEI – last year’s runner up at the Nationals – would be the Thunder’s opponent with both teams looking to move into the Bronze Medal qualifying games. Cold shooting would plague the Thunder all day and despite a good run that got the Thunder within 4 in the 4th, they would fall to the Hurricanes 83-72.
David Shantz and Jamaal Bucknor both registered monster double-doubles; David with 18 and 14, Jamaal with 13 and 19 rebounds. Dallas Wright added 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Liban Abdi-Aziz also registered double digits with 10 off the bench.
On Day 3 the Thunder still had a chance to improve from where they started the tournament taking on the Crandall Chargers from Moncton, NB in the 7/8 game. Taking the floor for the final time Dallas Wright, Jamaal Bucknor and David Shantz would leave a lasting mark on the Thunder program with a dominant performance. The Thunder blasted the Chargers in the first half with a 51-23 lead where Dallas Wright personally outscored the Chargers 26-23. The Chargers would make a small push in the 2nd half but the hole was dug too deep too early and the CUCA Thunder took their first ever win on the National stage with a 91-74 victory! “Only 3 teams get to win on the last day of the season and we are very happy to be one of them,” said Coach Wood. “This was the way we hoped to play the whole tournament but getting this win to send our seniors out with feels really good. Taking Jamaal, Dallas and Dave out for the last time with a minute to go was the hardest thing I’ve had to do as a coach. It's one thing to lose what they give us on the court next year but I will miss them as people so much more. I’m happy that we could make it this far and get to take in the whole experience here at Nationals. There have been so many amazing games played by incredible teams and I know I’ve learned a lot and I hope that our returning players see the commitment and effort it is going to take over the summer and all through next season to make a return trip to this tournament!”
Dallas Wright registered a career high in his final game finishing with 36 points. David Shantz had 19 to go with 4 rebounds and Jamaal Bucknor flirted with a triple-double adding 12 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists. WELL DONE THUNDER!!!!
Photo Courtesy of VIU Announcer