SPORTS

Four-time defending champion Ravens to meet Gee-Gees in CIS final

03/14/2015 04:50 EDT | Updated 05/14/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Minutes after the Ottawa Gee-Gees clinched their spot in the Canadian university men's basketball final, coach James Derouin deadpanned: "Who're we playing?

Derouin knows all too well.

"Guess who, right?" he smirked.

For the second consecutive season the Gee-Gees will battle four-time defending champion and crosstown rival Carleton Ravens, winners of 10 of the last 12 CIS titles. The top-ranked Ravens booked their spot in the final with an 83-74 win over the Victoria Vikes, while the No. 3-ranked Gee-Gees edged the seventh-seeded Ryerson Rams 84-75.

CIS MVP Johnny Berhanesmeskel scored 20 points to top Ottawa, while Vikas Gill added 18, drilling four three-pointers in a huge third quarter for the Gee-Gees.

"(Gill) turned the game around in that third quarter. . . Before we played tonight and at halftime we talked about our identity, and what happens if you don't make shots, and I told the guys, we're going to go down firing threes, man, that's how we play," Derouin said. "And Vick is a kid that listens and does what he's told, and he went out there and fired threes and made some big shots."

Carleton, meanwhile, led by as many as 27 points en route to the victory that put them one win away from their fifth consecutive title. But still, they weren't satisfied.

Philip Scrubb poured in 29 points, doled out 13 assists and pulled down eight rebounds to lead the Ravens. And minutes after the final buzzer sounded on what was Scrubb's second-last game of his university career, the guard from Richmond, B.C., lamented the mistakes his team made.

"We didn't play well enough in the second half, and if we play like that (Sunday), we're likely going to lose," Scrubb said. "We've got a lot of things to work on, and each individual guy knows what they've got to do."

Scrubb's older brother Thomas, who will also graduate this season, grabbed 12 rebounds for Carleton.

Marcus Tibbs led Canada West champion Victoria with 27 points.

The Ravens roared out to a 27-15 lead after one quarter, and then took a 48-32 advantage into the dressing room at halftime in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,056 fans at Ryerson University's Mattamy Athletic Centre that included a small but noisy red-clad Carleton contingent. One fan held a sign: "You got Scrubbed."

Philip Scrubb, who had already collected 14 points plus 10 assists by halftime, then contributed eight points of Carleton's 10-2 run to open the third and the Ravens took a 67-50 advantage into the fourth.

The late game saw the Rams lead 45-38 at halftime in their first-ever CIS semifinal, in front of a crowd that included Toronto Raptors players James Johnson and Bruno Caboclo.

Adika Peter-McNeilly scored 17 to top the Rams, including a three with about 3:49 to play that tied the game at 67-67. But a basket and two free throws by Michael L'Africain capped an 8-0 Ottawa run that gave the visitors a 78-69 lead with 47 seconds to play.

"Sadness for our kids, but immense pride as well," said Ryerson coach Roy Rana. "You feel for them, they are young men, some of them are still kids. An emotional time for all of us, but you feel for them.

"You wish it could have been a different result, but that's sports, right? Sometimes there's great glory, sometimes there's great heartbreak and for us tonight, it's heartbreak. But like I said from the beginning, not one game was going to define this team. This is a very special team and a very special season."

Ravens coach Dave Smart said it's fitting two Ontario teams will face off in the final — Carleton, Ottawa and Ryerson were ranked 1-2-3 virtually all season long.

"I don't think it's been a fluke that it's gone this way," Smart said. "The Ontario teams have been the best teams most of the year and I think it's holding true here."

The Vikes didn't go down without a fight against Carleton. Seven straight points by Tibbs pulled them to within 11 points, then a pair of free throws by Reiner Theil with about a minute to play pulled Victoria to within nine, but that was as close as they would come.

Sunday afternoon will come quickly for the Gee-Gees, whose fiercely-fought win over Ryerson ended around 11 p.m.

"The short turnaround was something we went through last year," Derouin said. "I'll be honest, last year we were unprepared for it, we got stuck at the Canadian Tire Centre late, and food, and there was all kinds of problems, and then we played even earlier last year. We're prepared for this situation, we're prepared to play Carleton, we prepared to make the finals and we're ready to go.

"These guys will get to bed, we'll have shootaround tomorrow, and luckily we know the opponent, we know them pretty well, so we're ready to go."

Carleton beat Ottawa 79-67 last year.

Earlier Saturday, Dadrian Collins scored 29 points to lead the Saskatchewan Huskies to a 99-94 win over the Windsor Lancers and fifth place at the CIS men's basketball championship.

The medal games are set for Sunday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, which is also the basketball venue for this summer's Pan American Games.

MORE:cpSports