Print Edition: March 4, 2015
Defense, defense, defense. Those were the words preached by men’s basketball head coach Adam Friesen in his office last Thursday in response to the tough task of designing a way to stop the University of Calgary. Their superstar, Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, is the only player in Canada West this year to earn himself a triple double — double-digits in three statistical categoriesm— when he garnered 26 points with 11 rebounds and 10 assists on January 16 against the University of Lethbridge. It was that game that threw Jackson into the national university basketball spotlight, and he has been a mainstay ever since.
Friesen’s task was simple in his eyes: stop Jackson, and the rest of the team falls apart. Friesen’s approach was to not allow Jackson to dictate the flow of the game or else the Cascades wouldn’t stand a chance against the Dinos. The biggest problem for the Cascades was their lack of experience with the Dinos. The Dinos, fifth in the pioneer’s division, were the second lowest seed remaining in the playoffs, but that didn’t mean a cakewalk for the Cascades.
Playing in the Pioneer division, the Dinos had a leg up on the Cascades. They had been playing the toughest teams all year. The opposite was true for the Cascades, who hadn’t been tested since October.
What was on the line was a trip to the Canada West final four and a potential berth at nationals. It would be the fourth consecutive final four appearance for the Cascades, and a return to glory for the Dinos after missing the playoffs last year.
While the Dinos started the season hot, their recent struggles highlight their inability to have an offense outside of their star player. At the Christmas break they were tied for first place in the division, but won only three of their last nine games and fell to fifth place in the division.
Although game one of the series saw a good back-and-forth for the first half, the Cascades trailed at halftime by three and it seemed that the Dinos were getting the better of them. Coach Friesen’s squad rebounded, outscoring the Dinos by 10 points in the third quarter. They never looked back.
Game two was when the Cascades shone brightest. Their switching on pick and rolls enabled them to get the upper hand on Calgary’s Jackson and shut him down for the majority of the game. However, it’s impossible to shut down a star like Jackson forever. He finished with 16 points, but scored 12 in the fourth quarter where the Dinos cut down a 23 -oint deficit to two points, with just over 30 seconds left in the game. The Cascades composed themselves after a Friesen timeout and were able to turn that two-point lead back to a safe seven points by the time the clock hit zero.
“We had a little bit of a meltdown,” said Cascades defensive juggernaut Kevon Parchment about the fourth quarter after the game, “but the team stayed strong, and most importantly we got the job done.”
With that win, the Cascades locked up their final four berth and will play the University of Victoria Vikes and Canada West MVP Chris McLaughlin on Friday night in Saskatchewan. A win for the Cascades would mean an opportunity to play for Canada West gold, and ensure a berth at nationals as one of the top eight teams in the country.
Post-game, Parchment was all business and already preparing for the tough battle ahead of them.
“Our team is very confident in our ability, we share the ball well and we are just glad to be here,” he said. “We just hope we can remain consistent.”