Mounties come up short in ACAA finals...but "the future is very bright"
It has been only one week since the Mount Allison Mounties men's basketball team fell short in the ACAA Championship final to the top ranked in the nation, Holland College Hurricanes 86-71 but preparations are already underway for next year which Coach Steve Chapman states, " the future is very bright". The Mounties can return as many as 12 players from its 14 man roster from this past year. Only sharp shooters Jeshua Becker from Maits Corner, NB and Montreal native, Yanniv Perez, will be departing due to graduation this Spring. "The interest in our program from prospective student athletes has always been high but this year in particular there are a number of quality players who have indicated their desire to join us. This, plus such a large group of returning players, and only three to graduate in 2020 has Chapman and his assistant coaches, Gerard Reinders and Mike MacDougall, already exited and preparing for the next ACAA campaign this Fall.
At the recent ACAA Championships held at Crandall University in Moncton, a young Mounties team, besieged by numerous injuries and health issues all year, came into the playoffs peaking and playing their best basketball of the season. Finishing 3rd in the ACAA during regular season play, the Mounties had won 4 of their last 6 games prior to their first round quarter final match up vs the host Crandall University Chargers. Before a packed gym and many Mountie patrons in attendance, the Mounties jumped out to a 61-33 half time lead and held off a second half Charger surge to win 94-86. Second year guard Aram Currie, selected as an ACAA 1st team All-Star, had a career high 38 points to lead the Mounties and send them into semi final action against 2nd seeded MSVU Mystics. Fourth year guard Jeshua Becker added 17 points while first year forward Sam Pierson contributed 10 as did second year forward James French.
In the ACAA semi final, the Mounties defeated the Mystics 77-73 in the tournaments most exciting and well played game of the tournament. The Mounties, who had lost all three previous games to the Mystics in regular season play were not to be denied a fourth time in an exciting back and fourth game. While the Mounties led 47-42 at half, the Mystics would come back and take a 72-66 lead with under four minutes to go. But a 11-1 run by the Mounties over the games final minutes propelled the team into the ACAA Championship game against top ranked Holland. Aram Currie once again helped a balanced Mountie attack scoring 15, Pierson added 15, Seongwoo Park, named player of the game, had 14 while fourth year forward Mack Chisholm had 12.
Playing in the final against Holland marked the second time in three years the Mounties would advance to the ACAA Championship game, the first, two years ago, against the Hurricanes (a 81-70 loss). This was the same year garnet gold qualified to the CCAA National Championships in school history. Despite playing Holland even over three quarters, a 12-2 Hurricane run in the second quarter proved to be too much to over come and the Mounties loss the final 86-71. Six different Mountie players scored in double figures in a hard fought losing effort to the Charlottetown based Hurricanes, who with the win, claimed their 7th consecutive ACAA title. According to Chapman " three games in three days was tough against their talent. Holland is number 1 for a reason but the coaches were really pleased with how our guys battled over 40 minutes and more importantly we loved their mind set and confidence going into the weekend, that being, they could win the whole thing. As a young team, I think the weekend was a great experience to carry them forward next year and beyond. We have a large returning group, some nice recruits en route so I think everyone should be excited for a bright future ahead".
The Mounties start spring workouts this week and will run up to exam period in early April. Coach Chapman, Coach Reinders, Coach MacDougall and the players and staff wish to thank all of its fan base and alumni support both at games or from afar this past season. All is appreciated.