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Decade belongs to Carleton

Carleton's fans storm the floor after their side wins the championship. Photo by Shauna Brown

It’s been a decade to remember for the Carleton Ravens.

The top seed in the CIS Final 8 men’s basketball tournament demonstrated without a doubt why they are the country’s top program, pulling ahead of the University of Alberta Golden Bears in the fifth minute and never looking back to take their eighth title in 10 years Mar. 11 at the Halifax Metro Centre. The final score was 86 – 67.

Winning the banner caps Carleton’s undefeated 34 – 0 season against CIS competition. It also ties the Ravens with the University of Victoria for the all-time championship record with eight titles.

Despite the undefeated campaign, you won’t see Carleton tournament all-star Tyson Hinz choosing which of his three titles means more to him.

“It’s really hard to compare the championships, but I’m really happy for all the seniors that got to win it this year.”

In front of a crowd of over 3,500, Carleton’s defence contained Alberta’s big players for much of the game, with bellwether Daniel Ferguson held to 25 points and just three three pointers. Jordan Baker and Sahr Saffa added 12 points each to the Canada West champions’ total.

Alberta was also unable to box out the powerful Ravens, and had difficulty rebounding both offensively and defensively. They were able to score on just 31.7 per cent of field goal attempts, compared to 52.6 per cent for the Ravens. The clearly frustrated Golden Bears also got in penalty trouble in the first quarter, recording six fouls in their attempt to slow the Ravens.

CIS player of the year Philip Scrubb scored 26 points.

“I’ve been a part of two championships and now we just need to win three more,” said the second-year from Richmond, B.C. Scrubb had several impressive individual performances, and made a mockery of the Bears’ defensive efforts, scoring on half his attempts.

Ravens coach Dave Smart, boasting 13 years behind Carleton’s bench, could not sit still despite his side’s clear dominance. He was constantly screaming for more out of every player, showing his incredible attention to detail and desire for precision.

Late in the fourth quarter a referee issued Smart a warning for his constant criticism, at which point he relented—if only slightly. His passion was evident, and his players’ reactions showed they look up to him.

He refuted any talk of a dynasty to the media, responding with “one title in one year” after being asked about his team’s championship record in the past decade.

A large contingent of Carleton students were on hand to cheer their school, including Bridgewater native John Samson, studying international business in Ottawa. He rode the fan bus to Halifax to cheer on the Ravens.

“It’s kind of at a point where it’s almost becoming a little too easy, but it’s still fun every year.”

He and his peers shouted such chants as, “12 is selfish!,” to try and get Alberta’s No. 12, Daniel Ferguson, off his game, and “We love Smart!,” in praise of their head coach.

Even Alberta head coach Greg Francis raved about Carleton’s dynasty. “They’ve become the model, the gold standard in this country. It’s a great thing to chase after, but I’m really proud of my guys for showing up. It’s just a little disappointing because I wanted to give this to my fifth-year guys.”

The Golden Bears had victories against Ryerson and a squeaker past St. FX to make the title game.

The Ravens beat Acadia in the quarterfinals and Fraser Valley in the semifinals to qualify for the championship themselves.

The outcome of the game was never in doubt, but the action was entertaining and the crowd was behind both teams. The Final 8 tournament will be in Ottawa for the next two years. The host after that is unknown.

with files from Ian Froese, Sports Editor

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