CAMROSE, Alta. - In what may go down as upset of the tournament, the fourth-ranked team from the north NAIT Ooks pulled off an improbable win against the CCAA number two ranked Lethbridge Kodiaks on Thursday night in the Augustana gymnasium, 104-92. It was only the second defeat for the Kodiaks all season, regular season and playoffs combined.
A back and forth affair that was never out of reach for either team, NAIT was able to secure a two-point half time lead that began to set the wheels in motion for the upset potentially brewing in the quarterfinal matchup. Despite Lethbridge being able to take a one-point lead into the third quarter, the belief for the Ooks still held despite the Kodiaks pedigree.
NAIT Ooks rode a strong defensive effort that saw Lethbridge only convert 10-39 (25.6%) from three-point range. It was this effort that did not go unnoticed by the Ooks coach after pulling off the surprise win: "We gave up ninety points, but I don't know if our team has had more buy-in on the defensive end. The team battled all game and were able to secure an upset over the second ranked team nationally" said head coach Slav Kornik after the upset win.
Sean-Michael Clancey put together an incredible thirty-nine-point, fourteen rebounds, seven assists, six steal masterpiece that solidified his selection as a first-team north all-conference selection. A key moment in the contest came with the Ooks leading 92-90. Clancey came up with two steals that resulted in four more points for the Ooks and would gain them a six-point lead that they would never relinquish. Markus Taylor-Knighten also contributed a large twenty-seven-point, eleven rebound game as Lethbridge struggled inside when it came to rebounds, losing that battle by seventeen.
The NAIT Ooks will now face the Ambrose Lions, on Friday March 6, at 8:00pm at Augustana Gymnasium. The Lethbridge Kodiaks will now play at 3:00pm.
Players of the Game:
NAIT Ooks: Sean-Michael Clancey
Lethbridge Kodiaks: Chase Bohne