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This article was published 29/12/2010 (3988 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The University of Winnipeg Wesmen achieved their main goal last night.
They figured out how to put back-to-back wins together as they defeated the University of Manitoba Bisons 83-76 and advanced to tonight's 44th annual Wesmen Classic men's basketball tournament championship final.
Following Tuesday's opening-round 81-65 win over the McMaster Marauders, Wesmen coach Mike Raimbault displayed cautious optimism.
"Tonight was a very good night for us. Now it goes to the next step in the tournament. We have to figure out how to put together back-to-back winning efforts."
Mission accomplished. Today, however, is a new day, and what happened Tuesday is water under the bridge.
Tonight at 8 p.m., the Wesmen will tip off against the defending CIS champions the Saskatchewan Huskies in an attempt to win their own tournament at the University of Winnipeg's Duckworth Centre.
Today's new goal? Take it up a notch, and put a string of three victories together.
The Huskies defeated Lakehead Thunderwolves 82-79 to advance to the final. Jejean Chabot led Saskatchewan with 31 points and Jamelle Barrett added 20.
For the Thunderwolves, it was Jamie Searle with 19, Venzal Russell with 17, Ryan Thomson with 15 and Joseph Jones with 14.
"Tonight, the effort and intensity was great," said Raimbault, whose Wesmen held quarter leads of 20-15, 43-28 and 64-48 before the Bisons made their run to catch up.
"I thought our defensive focus was strong for a good portion of the game. We did a better job of containing some of their penetration and we closed it out in not maybe the prettiest fashion in the end, but they're a really good ball club and they made a lot of tough plays to come back and make it close."
"They are a team that can easily come back from great deficits," said Brayden Duff, who contributed 18 points for the win. "This isn't the first time it's happened (coming back to make it close); they've done it before. They're an explosive team that you have to watch out for all the time."
Lynden Drayton-Barrow had 14 points and three Wesmen -- Nolan Gooding, Benny Iko and Kelvin Smith -- chipped in 12 points apiece. Nick Lother added 11 more.
For the Bisons, Jonar Huertas had 17, Eric Garcia 15, Keith Omoerah 11 and Josh Ogden and Sean Maxwell each contributed 10.
Duff, a 6-foot-4 forward, isn't counting any chickens before they're hatched, but does believe the Wesmen are on the right track.
"You know what? We have 10 new guys and a brand-new coach. Right now, everyone's still getting used to each other and things like that, so as this team progresses we're just going to keep getting better.
"At the start, we had a really tough schedule," Duff continued, "but it was a really good experience for us and now that we're coming of age, we're going to be a much better team."
Raimbault said he couldn't put his finger on why his troops came out on fire they way the did last night.
"I can't say for sure. I thought that defensively, we were able to get some stops that led to some good looks for us. I also thought early on that our offensive movement was better in the second half.
"This was one of the first times we've been in a close ball game with Manitoba, but we have to be in those kinds of games and in those situations to get some comfort level there. Thankfully, we were able to pull it out. There's definitely a lot of lessons we'll learn from the end portion of that game."
Looking ahead to today's final Duff was cautious. "It feels really good. We're playing really well, so we'll just have to go out there and do the same thing."
Lakehead and Manitoba will play for third place today at 4 p.m.
In two consolation finals today, Minot will play McMaster at noon and at 2 p.m., Brandon will play Jamestown.
Jamestown advanced by beating McMaster Marauders 75-67 and Minot stopped Brandon Bobcats 74-65.
C.J. Peeters had 21 points for Jamestown, while Keenan Etale and Satar Wahidi each had 13 for the Marauders.
Minot State was led by Shawn Storseth with 18. Brandon got 15 from Jordan Reaves.