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  • Ottawa's Johnny Berhanemeskel (left) holds his CIS silver medal (Justin Tang, CP)

    Blink and you missed when the silver medals were around the necks of Johnny Berhanemeskel and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue.

    The runner-ups at the Final Four get to retreat to the locker room. At the CIS Final 8, falling in the final involves lining up for the medal presentations, like and lump it. The Ottawa Gee-Gees — "by far the best team I think I've played in my five years here in the CIS," tournament MVP Tyson Hinz said after putting up 30 in his final university game — rolled their boulder farther up Mt. Carleton than any team has over the past four years, only to be crushed by it. For 2½ quarters, James Derouin's team hung in even while its best big, Gonthier-Dubue, was battling foul trouble and star Terry Thomas was vexed by Hinz, who limited the small forward to 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

    A silver medal represents the best finish in the downtown Ottawa program's history, and also how far it still has to go. C'est la vie.

    "It's just bittersweet," said Berhanemeskel, the crafty fourth-year guard who emptied the tank while scoring a team-high 19 points during the 79-67 loss in front of 7,050 at the Canadian Tire Centre. "That's just how I am. I'm a competitor. At the end of the game, I want to be having the gold around my neck. Me and Gab have gone through the grind together for the past four years and we've got one more year to do it now."

    Taking on Carleton, Laval in football, or the Windsor Lancers in women's hoops means the tally posted on the scoreboard is not the actual score. A 20-point lead over any of those CIS juggernauts is like being tied with a mid-pack team. The pregame scuttlebutt was that Ottawa had a shot if it could build a big early lead. Instead, it was was down two after one quarter and trailed by two again at recess. Then Carleton happened, with a characteristic third quarter. Phil Scrubb, limited to 16 points on 3-for-14 shooting, scored the Ravens' first seven of that period to create a gap.

    "I think we had a chance to do some things early on that could have given us a better cushion and that kind of hurt us in the third quarter," Berhanemeskel said. "There were a couple bounces and rebounds down the stretch."

    Read More »from Ottawa Gee-Gees, Johnny Berhanemeskel ‘bittersweet’ after best CIS Final 8 finish in school’s history
  • Tyson Hinz scored 30 points in his final CIS game on Sunday (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Hinz rhymes with wins, and the Carleton Ravens' outgoing leader also covers everything.

    The last word on what might stand as the best Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's basketball championship game matchup, with Carleton outlasting challenger Ottawa 79-67 in the first cross-town national final, fittingly went to hometowner Tyson Hinz, the toughest bird of them all. The game within the game that unfolded in front of 7,050 at the Canadian Tire Centre, where the nationals might not roost again for a couple years, was Hinz scoring 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting while nabbing six rebounds and a team-high five assists from his centre position. His check on defence, Ottawa's star forward Terry Thomas, was held to 14 on 5-of-14.

    Whatever comes next for Hinz, who goes out on a run of four titles in five seasons, it was a legacy-sealing performance. Hinz was named tournament MVP over Thomas Scrubb, who scored at least 20 in all three of Carleton's wins.

    "It's tough to even realize it's happening when you're going through the game," said the four-time all-Canadian. "You're looking at the scoreboard, playing for your team. It's hard to put into words. I just really want to enjoy it with the guys.

    "Coaches, the program, I'm going to really miss it," Hinz added. "Especially the team culture. What the whole program has done for me is hard to put into words. You just get fired up seeing the guys you played with come back to cheer you on, flying in from all over Canada."

    Read More »from Carleton Ravens’ Tyson Hinz caps CIS days with MVP performance
  • Carleton has gone 132-3 while winning the last 4 CIS titles (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Dave Smart plans to put it up to 11.

    The 'Carleton should play NCAA Division I' crowd has mostly been shouted down by people who prefer their thinking to be less blue-sky but the question of how long Smart will stay in the CIS ranks pops up after every Ravens' national championship. The big pre-tournament story before the CIS Final 8, after the possibility of a Carleton-Ottawa Gee-Gees final, derived from the Grantland feature on the Ravens where Smart named his terms to entertain an offer to coach south of the border. Following Carleton's 79-67 win over Ottawa for its 10th title in 12 seasons and fourth in a row, Smart stated the quote was all about pricing himself out of the NCAA market.

    "No one's giving me that, no one's giving me a half-million dollars [per season]," Smart said as he held one of his young children during a media scrum. "That was my way of saying that I'm not going anywhere. Even if someone offered me ridiculous money, it would be a family decision. I know I'd go into a situation, coaching- and program-wise, that would be worse. I've got a great situation here professionally. You have to look at your family. But that ain't happening. The point of me saying that was I ain't leaving."

    Read More »from ‘I ain’t leaving’: For Dave Smart and Carleton Ravens, dominating CIS is not getting old
  • Whoa there. PEI's Edie Mackenzie is not a fan of relegation. (CP)

    While the likes of Northern Ontario, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories sunk to the bottom of the Brier standings this week, the harsh reality of curling's new order was also sinking in. We'd gotten a taste of the general unease felt over the changes when last month's Scotties championship was being played out, in Montreal.

    Relegation was on the horizon and it was not sitting well with many players and fans alike. With two teams destined to finish at the bottom of the past three years' accrued records in both the Scotties and Brier, their province or territories' need to play their way back into the tournament at a pre-event, next year, was getting lots of hammering.

    For the 2015 Brier, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will need to earn a berth through the pre-event tourney. Only one of them can.

    PEI skip Eddie Mackenzie is not a fan of the changes and offered this opinion to the Canadian Curling Association's Tankard Times:

    "A Brier that doesn’t include one of the

    Read More »from Brier relegation largely panned: Some of the criticism is just, much is not
  • UVic's Marcus Tibbs left, a Seattle native, pushes the ball during the bronze medal game vs. Alberta (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    From handling parcels to dropping dimes at the CIS Final 8, Victoria Vikes point guard Marcus Tibbs has had quite the hoops journey.

    One could do a lot worse than the Seattle native, who overcame a broken jaw and broken hand within the past 14 months to have a strong tournament for UVic, as a breakout player from the Canadian university basketball championship. The one-time top 10 high school recruit out of Washington state's ease with reading the floor was manifest in the Vikes' valiant rally in a semifinal loss to Ottawa on Saturday, where it rallied from 18 down to within two. Tibbs came away from the tournament feeling fulfilled, if not slaked, even though the Vikes finished the year with successive losses after falling 61-53 to Alberta in a bronze-medal game that tipped off at 7:37 a.m. West Coast time (6:37 if you throw in that Sunday was the first day of daylight saving times).

    "I don't know how to really explain it, I'm blessed to be playing," said Tibbs, 23, who had 15 points and five assists during the Vikes' loss to Ottawa and followed up with nine and four in 19 minutes vs. Alberta. "Really, I got rocked, my jaw was broken. So I'm happy, I'll take this in stride.

    "Overall, I got a good feeling for trte league. Next year's going to be good. I'm happy ... We've seen Carleton before, but seeing Ottawa is where it was different, I should have been more prepared for it. We'll be ready for it next year."

    Read More »from Victoria Vikes’ Marcus Tibbs finds safe harbour in CIS basketball
  • Canadian Para-alpine skiers Mac Marcoux and Caleb Brousseau won medals Sunday at the Winter Paralympics.

    SOCHI, Russia - While Ozzie Sawicki, the chef de mission of the Canadian Paralympic team, may have appeared calm on the outside, when I approached him just moments before our rookie alpine skier Mac Marcoux was set to race, he said that his heart was in his throat. Mac is a visually impaired skier and began to lose his sight at the age of nine. In just one month, he went from perfect vision to legally blind. While he will never go completely blind, his sight will continue to worsen over time. However, as Mac’s sight becomes less, his goal is to become faster. Already clocking times faster than 130 kilometres per hour at only 16 years old, we watched this first time Paralympian ski to the bronze medal, and the first Canadian medal of these Games. Ozzie was just thrilled with the bronze medal performance. This will set an example for the other rookies on the team and there is no doubt in his mind that there will be many gold medal moments in this young star's future.

    After the race I

    Read More »from Visually impaired Alpine skier lends his guide to teammate leading to Sochi Paralympics bronze medal
  • Milos Raonic was back on the tennis court Saturday after seven weeks off with injury. He managed to pull out a win. (Stephanie Myles/Open Court)

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Sidelined by a tear in his left ankle tendon, Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic only began hitting tennis balls a week before arriving here for the big Masters 1000 tournament. He only began playing actual points three days ago.

    So it's not surprising his return to action after more than seven weeks off the Tour was a little rocky, even if in the end he pulled out a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (2) victory over 30-year-old veteran Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, a solid player ranked No. 42.

    "I did serve well, and that's what kept me in the match," said Raonic, who produced 33 aces and topped the 140 mph mark on more than one occasion. It was a new aces record for this tournament, and the fourth-highest aces total in the 23-year-old's still-young career.

    It was tense; there was a little profanity which had Roger-Vasselin asking chair umpire Fergus Murphy why Raonic hadn't been issued a warning, since he could hear it clearly all the way on the other side of the court.

    But until 4-5 in the second set, everything was more or less going well until – seemingly out of nowhere – Raonic dropped his serve at love, and consequently the set. He began the third set in much the same fashion, spraying balls all over the place.

    Read More »from Milos Raonic’s return to the pro tour at Indian Wells is a success – barely
  • Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard made noise at the Brier this week (CP Images)KAMLOOPS, B.C. — With their final stone in the ninth end, Team Quebec could either make a difficult draw for the single point, or make an even more difficult bank shot to score twice and take a one-point lead into the 10th end.

    High-level sport, by nature, is a risk-averse endeavour, even though the math generally suggests that playing aggressively will maximize a team's chances of winning. In hockey, the math says that carrying the puck into the zone is the higher percentage play, yet teams elect to dump and chase. In football, the math says that teams don't gamble enough on third down. In baseball, teams utilize the sacrifice bunt far too often, so says the math.

    Surely the following numbers weren't going through the head of Jean-Michel Menard, but had he made the shot and scored twice to take a one-point lead, he'd have an 83 per cent chance of victory. A miss, allowing his opponent Team Alberta to score a single point, would mean he'd have a 17 per cent chance. It's easier to weigh the risk and reward of the aggressive play when even if he'd made the draw and taken his single point, he'd have been tied without the hammer in the tenth end: teams in that situation at recent Tim Hortons Brier tournaments win just 28 per cent of the time.

    Read More »from Tim Hortons Brier: Quebec make noise, but Cinderella run falls short in Kamloops
  • Ottawa's Johnny Berhanemeskel and Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)It had to work out this way for Johnny Berhanesmeskel and the Ottawa Gee-Gees, who will tip off vs. the almighty Carleton Ravens on Sunday afternoon.

    Some questions are best left unanswered, like what might have happened if the cross-town rivals had met in the final of the 2013 CIS Final 8. Ottawa's collapse in the semifinal vs. Lakehead led to an anticlimactic championship Sunday where the Gee-Gees sent graduating star Warren (Worldwide) Ward, now playing pro in Germany, off with a bronze medal and then watched Carleton crush the spent Thunderwolves by a record 50 points in the final. Ottawa's three losses to the Phil Scrubb- and Thomas Scrubb-led Ravens in '12-13 were by a total of a dozen points, but there was a feeling it might have got exposed if there had been a Canal War IV. On Saturday, when it withstood a second-half Victoria Vikes rally to win 79-71, it was clear Ottawa might be as ready as it ever will be to face Carleton in the last game of the season.

    A "remember last year" refrain went up and down the bench as Ottawa's early 18-point lead shrank to a deuce by the early stage of the fourth quarter in front of 5,993 at the Canadian Tire Centre. Then Berhanemeskel — AKA Johnny Berhanemeskel — who'd taken a technical foul in the third quarter ("I thought I just bounced the ball," he said later) came alive with 12 late points to close out the Vikes, finishing with a game-high 24. Ottawa's other big cogs such as rugged centre Gabriel Gonthier-Dubue (15 points) and second-year combo forward Caleb Agada (12 points and 10 boards for the double-double) also showed their maturity.

    "Last year's performance has been haunting us for 365 days, waking up every single morning being reminded of it," said Berhanemeskel, who took over as Ottawa's floor leader following Ward's graduation. "It was such a motivating factor last summer in working hard. Our guys remember that feeling and we don't want to miss that opportunity ever again. So many guys grew into the roles we needed them to take.

    "We took [Carleton] to triple overtime last year and we didn't play as well as we wanted to in the first two games this year [when the Ravens won by 21 and 24 points]," the fourth-year guard added. "We wanted to prove last year was a fluke."

    Read More »from Ottawa Gee-Gees one step deeper, meeting Carleton Ravens to decide CIS basketball title
  • Ottawa's Caleb Agada (centre) had a double-double in Saturday's semifinal (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Two teams from one city hooking up for the W.P. McGee Trophy has never happened before in Canadian university men's basketball annals, meaning sleep is overrated.

    With daylight savings time beginning Saturday night and the CIS Final 8 championship game tipping off at 2 p.m. ET at Sportsnet 360's request, that meant the Ottawa Gee-Gees will only have about 12½ hours of R&R between their 78-70 semifinal win over the Victoria Vikes and a date with destiny vs. the rival Carleton Ravens, who downed Alberta 79-55. Whether the short window is conducive to optimum performance on the parquet at Canadian Tire Centre remains to be seen, but the matchup is without precedent. So no need to make excuses about an early start, even though No. 2 seed Carleton will get a couple extra hours' rest and the pace-pushing top-seeded Gee-Gees had the tighter turnaround.

    "This is what I've been waiting all season for, it's nationals and Ottawa versus Carleton," said Ottawa's sophomore combo forward Caleb Agada, whose 12 points and 10 rebounds helped the Gee-Gees hang in against a Victoria front line that includes 6-foot-10 Chris McLaughlin, who was valiant with 19 points before fouling out late.

    "This is what we've been waiting for. My energy is the highest it could possibly be."

    It's been 36 years — longer than some of the coaches in Sunday's tilt have been alive — since two teams from such close proximity met in the national final. Back in 1978 in Halifax, the hometown Saint Mary's Huskies beat Atlantic conference rival Acadia, from nearly Wolfville, N.S., 99-91. That contest, still remembered vividly down east by fans of a certain vintage, drew more than 11,000 fans.

    Read More »from Carleton-Ottawa cross-town CIS final an unprecedented matchup, but will crowd size and casual-fan support reflect it?

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