By Jackson Starr (Photos: Valerie Wutti)
It was an instant classic at TD Place as the Carleton Ravens men’s basketball team won 67-61 to take victory at Capital Hoops. The Ravens improved defensively as the game went along to shut down the Gee-Gees in the end and defeat its crosstown rival.
It was a low-scoring, physical first quarter of the game with the first three minutes only seeing two total points. The Ravens picked it up as the quarter went on though, as Aiden Warnholtz (Ottawa, Ont.), Grant Shephard (Kelowna, BC.) and Reginald Jean-Seraphin (Ottawa, Ont.) picked up baskets in the first. Warnholtz led the way through, picking up seven first-quarter points. The Gee gees tightened up defensively as the quarter went on and the Ravens struggled to make shots. With uOttawa picking it up as the quarter wrapped up, the Gee-Gees led 17-13 through ten minutes of action.
In the second, the Ravens did a good job at drawing fouls in the paint, getting to the line and overall doing a better job exploiting the Ottawa defence. Warnholtz continued his strong first half with six second-quarter points, good for 13 in the first half. The Gee-Gees though did a good job at contesting passes and forcing turnovers to regain possession. That opened up a back-and-forth, physical, a defensive second quarter with both teams trying to shut the other down. The Ravens fell into turnover trouble and the Gee-Gees capitalized, taking a five-point lead. Kevin Otoo led the way for uOttawa with 14 first-half points. The Ravens though, fought adversity to claw back to within one at the half, with the Gee-Gees ahead 32-31 at halftime in a tightly contested, high-intensity game.
The Ravens tightened up defensively in the third and picked it up offensively in the first few minutes of the second half. Shephard asserted himself in the defensive paint, shutting down the Gee-Gees from picking up rebounds. Offensively, Eliot Bailey (Horsham, UK.) and Connor Vreeken (Kingston, Ont.) made some big baskets to give the Ravens the lead. The Ravens opened things up as the quarter went on and led by eight at the midway point of the quarter. The Ravens got hot as the quarter went on, dispersing the offence well. Warnholtz had nine third-quarter points, with Vreeken picking up seven. Both teams struggled to make shots as the quarter wrapped up, with the Ravens holding a 50-42 lead heading into the fourth.
The Gee-Gees came out in the fourth with energy and started forcing turnovers turning that into offence. That set up a back-and-forth middle of the quarter, with both teams beginning to fire on all cylinders in a close game. The Ravens were able to break the back-and-forth action with some clutch consecutive makes. Vreeken and Warnholtz each made big buckets late in the fourth to give the Ravens a four-point lead. Shephard also came up with an electrifying late dunk to extend the Ravens' advantage. As the game came to a close, the Ravens' defence held on to take a 67-61 win at the classic.
With the win, Carleton finds itself on a three-game winning streak heading into back-to-back home games this coming weekend. The Ravens now sit at 14-4 on the season, good for second in the highly competitive OUA East Division. The Ravens will look to keep pushing ahead as the playoffs approach.
“It was a big game for us. We needed to do what we did to get a result. I thought we could have played better, I’m sure (uOttawa) thought the same way but at the end of the day I was happy to get the result.”
On Areas to Improve:
“We’re turning the ball over a little too much still…too many offensive rebounds as well. Those are two things we’ve got to try and shore up, if we can shore those things up and execute a little better, I think we’d be tough to beat.”
On Younger Players Impact:
“It’s hard to be a first-year kid and play in this environment. The veterans ended up playing the best out of this whole thing, but we have guys who have been in big games before…so these guys weren’t phased at all, but the other guys were pretty phased by it. They gave us what they could and hopefully they can give us more moving forward.”
On Cap Hoops as a Whole:
“This has always been a great event. It’s a great basketball community and it's nice to be able to celebrate this again. It's one of those one-time events where we were able to bring people together. We've done it in the past and will do it in the future.”
FROM AIDEN WARNHOLTZ:
On the event as a whole:
“It's a ton of fun. We haven’t had one since 2020 in a Stadium like this. We always relish the opportunity to have an environment like this. Growing up watching it and being able to play a big part in it now is amazing.”
On playing 36 Minutes:
“I’ve had to play big minutes in a few games, I try to pride myself on my cardio. There’s times on the floor you’re pretty gassed but a break here and there usually gets it done.”
“We’ve still got a ton of things to work on. Turnover wise, defensively, so it feels good to get wins, but we still know we’ve got a lot of work to do if we want to have our goal of winning another National Championship.”