ETOBICOKE – On brand with the entire tournament so far, the second Bronze Medal Quarter-final contest didn’t disappoint.
The Capilano Blues and Les Filons du Cegep de Thetford went back and forth for a full 40 minutes on Saturday afternoon. When the dust finally settled, the Blues kept their 2022 season alive with a hard-fought 91-89 win over Thetford.
Both teams relied on balanced offensive attacks on the day, as four players from each roster recorded double-digit points.
Tyrone Asenoguan led the way for Capilano, finishing with a team-high 19 points to go along with eight rebounds. Martin Bogajev added 18 points of his own, all from three-point range, while both CJ Campbell and Brenden Bailey chipped in 16 points apiece in the win.
For Thetford, three players recorded double-doubles in defeat. Yannice Nlend had a game-high 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Ulrich Larochel recorded 15 points and 13 rebounds, earning Player of the Game honours in the process, while Marc-Denault Gabriel chipped in 18 points and 10 rebounds of his own.
Georges Mfwanba Ngandu recorded 10 points off the bench to round out Thetford’s four players in double figures.
If you’re a fan of offense, this game was the one for you.
Capilano came out of the gates strong and were looking to pull away from Thetford early on. A layup from Brenden Bailey with 4:49 to play in the first quarter gave the Blues an early 22-10 lead. While it took Thetford some time to heat up, they eventually found their rhythm down the stretch. They closed the quarter on a 19-7 run, capped off by a three from Ousmane Diawara just before the buzzer, and they brought the game back to 29-all after one quarter.
That was a sign of things to come, as neither team would lead by double digits the rest of the way.
In the fourth quarter, it looked as though Thetford was going to pull away from the Blues and extend their season. A three from Yannice Nlend gave Thetford a 78-70 lead with 6:26 to play.
Asenoguan answered right back with a layup for the Blues, prompting a timeout from Thetford, and we were on track for yet another finish that went right down to the wire.
Then, with two minutes to go, Asenoguan asserted himself on both ends of the floor for the Blues. First, with 2:03 to play, he got a layup to fall to put the Blues ahead by two. Then, he recorded a steal on the next Thetford possession, and proceeded to throw down a dunk on the other end in transition to complete a stellar 20 seconds of individual play.
Still, the Blues had to sweat it out down to the end. Yannice Nlend was fouled on a three point attempt, and proceeded to make all three free throws to bring Thetford back to within one. Capilano had three separate trips to the free throw line in the final minute, but weren’t able to put the game away.
Up two with less than a second left on the clock, Sam Bailey missed both free throws that would’ve iced the game for Capilano. Fortunately for the Blues, the clock expired shortly after the second miss before Thetford could launch a shot the full length of the court, and Capilano held on for the 91-89 win.
With the win, the Blues will now advance to Sunday’s Bronze Medal Semifinals, where they will take on the loser between the St. Clair Saints and VIU Mariners.
For Thetford, the loss marks the end of their debut season at the top level in the CCAA. For Les Filons, they recorded a perfect regular season and won the RSEQ Championship in their first season in Division I in the RSEQ.
- T. Bennett