Playoff drought ends with statement win

First post season win in six years sealed at ARC

Ryall Stroud carries the ball towards the basket for the Gaels.
Ryall Stroud carries the ball towards the basket for the Gaels.

Men’s basketball were all smiles on Wednesday night after the Gaels notched their first playoff win in six years.

Facing off against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, Queen’s came out on top by a score of 87-70. 

After an evenly matched first quarter, the Gaels took off in the dying minutes of the second, hitting a flurry of three-pointers and embarking on a 10-0 run to close out the half. The Gaels shot an impressive 44 per cent from beyond the arc in the game. 

The tempo stayed high in the third, and after a 19-6 run to open the quarter, the Gaels found their groove and were locked in. They scored a total of 50 points between the second and third quarters and headed to the fourth with a commanding 67-43 lead. 

In the winning cause, versatile forward Ryall Stroud filled up the stat sheet, tallying up a game-high 20 points, 14 rebounds, a pair of steals and blocks, and shot a formidable 54 per cent from the floor. 

Guard Sukhpreet Singh said the team tried to keep the ball moving as much as possible and shoot whenever they had a good look at the rim.  

“Our ball movement was incredible,” Singh said. “We had a lot of possessions where the ball didn’t even touch the floor — it was just pass, pass, pass, and hopefully knock down the open shot.”  

A late stretch in the fourth, where the Varsity Blues trimmed the deficit down to as much as 15, caused a scare in the crowd, but the men comfortably finished strong down the stretch and clinched the win. 

During the team’s strongest span of play — in the second and third quarters — coach Stephen Barrie said the offence works best when they keep things simple.

“We slowed it down and took it easy,” he said. “We hit the open man, passed a lot, had great ball movement and minimized our dribbling — when we do those things we generally have good offensive possessions.” 

The last time the Gaels played a home playoff game in 2010, the entirety of the current roster was still in high school. Needless to say, a packed crowd was drawn to the ARC and alongside them the team inspired to perform.  

Barrie said the atmosphere, was unprecedented and tested the men’s desire and will to win. 

“The crowd was a major impact tonight — no question about it,” he said. “They gave us great energy and this [is] why our guys play. they want to be a great team that draws big crowds and plays in big games with great atmospheres … it’s the most exciting thing for them.” 

Looking ahead, the Gaels hit the hardwood away from home on Saturday against the tough second-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees in the OUA quarterfinal.  

Although happy with the win, Barrie was adamant that the team has to stay consistent throughout the entirety of the game to prolong their playoff push. 

“We lost our focus in the last part of the game … if you lose your focus for four minutes, you’re not in the game. It’s over, so we have to try and get 40 minutes and not just bits and pieces of each quarter.”  

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