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Treys sink home team in the end

Lakehead wearing crown after men's final at Classic

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It was the Winnipeg Wesmen's big night -- in the final of their own tournament -- but it was the Lakehead Thunderwolves who walked off with the big prize.

The Thunderwolves shot 53.3 per cent in the second half from beyond the three-point arc to beat the Wesmen 84-67 for the championship of the 46th annual Wesmen Classic university men's basketball tournament Sunday.

The Wesmen were in the final for the 28th time in the storied history of what's billed as the longest-running university tournament in Canada.

A crowd of about 1,400 fans cleared out pretty fast as the all-stars were being announced. They came to see the Wesmen win, and though they didn't, they did put on a pretty good show.

Local product Travis Krahn, the pride of Winkler, dropped a pair of three-point baskets in the final two minutes to give his team a lift. He ended the night with 14 points.

"(Lakehead) played a solid game all around and we just couldn't quite match it today," said Krahn, a third-year guard.

"It's our home court, and you just want to come out and play for the fans, but unfortunately today it just wasn't quite enough."

He said the team's performance overall in the tournament has set them up to take a good run at the second half of the Canada West conference regular season. The Wesmen have an 8-3 record and are second in the Prairie division.

Thunderwolves' 6-foot-7 forward Ryan Thomson said winning the tournament gives his team "momentum and confidence."

Lakehead posted a 3-4 record in the Ontario University Athletics West division in the first half of the regular season.

"We had a rough start to conference play, so coming out here and getting a couple of wins certainly helps us build off it," said Thomson, who went 5-for-9 from three-point land and led his team with 22 points.

His said his team's goal is to get back to nationals for a fourth straight year.


"Our shooting is one of our strengths, but this whole tournament we played really well defensively, and that was key for us."

While the Wesmen trailed just 32-27 at halftime, the game changed in the second half.

With the score tied 34-34 midway through the third quarter, Lakehead's Matthew Schmidt went on a personal 11-0 run. The fifth-year forward completed a three-point play, two three-point baskets and a jump shot in about a three-minute span to lift the Thunderwolves to a 45-39 lead.

Add in a couple missed Wesmen buckets and having their lunch eaten on the boards

The Thunderwolves pulled way after that and ended the third quarter with back-to-back three-point baskets by fifth-year guard Joseph Jones and rookie guard Joe Hart for a 13-point lead.

Lakehead's three-point clinic continued in the fourth quarter as the Thunderwolves took the game out of the Wesmen's reach.

"We kind of do it by committee. We don't have one guy that's really your best player, your guy that's going to score 20 a game. We don't know whose going to do it, but it seems to work out," said Thomson.

Lakehead's Yoosrie Salhia, the tournament's most valuable player, and Greg Carter each scored 12 points.

Winnipeg was led by fifth-year forward Benny Iko with 16 points, fourth-year forward Steven Wesley added 15 and fourth-year guard Andrew Cunningham scored 12 points.

The Thunderwolves out-rebounded the Wesmen 37-28.

The tournament all-stars included Jordan Reaves of the Brandon Bobcats, Winnipeg native Nick Loewen of the Mount Royal Cougars, Winnipeg's Wesley and Iko and Lakehead's Thomson

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 31, 2012 C1

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