First round exit for men’s basketball team

Nipissing ousts Gaels from OUA playoffs in 77-74 bout

Stephan Barrie led the Gaels to 7-12 record on the year.
Stephan Barrie led the Gaels to 7-12 record on the year.

A 26-9 run in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough for the men’s basketball team to come back against the Nipissing Lakers in the first round of playoff action last week. 

After notching their first playoff victory in six years last season, the team didn’t know how difficult it would be to fill the holes left by graduating student athletes.

Midway through this season, the team held a 6-1 record. And even with a relatively young team coupled with a fresh-look offense, the Gaels looked on the right track. 

Then reality hit. 

“I honestly feel graduation is what went wrong,” said head coach Stephan Barrie, losing five of their top nine players — one, Mike Shoveller, due to injury — from the previous season. Returning from winter break, the team went on an 11-game losing skid. 

“We were much more inexperienced this year, and the reality is, for a program like us, we just didn’t have enough guys with enough experience to put ourselves in better situations.” 

In their final week of the regular season, the team mustered a 70-60 win against the York Lions, sneaking into the last playoff spot with a 7-12 record. This past week against the Nipissing Lakers, the Gaels were down 68-48 through three quarters. 

“I think [the game] was a reflection of how the season went,” said Barrie of the loss. “Most of the year we found ourselves getting down [early], and we seemed to be on that same script on a regular basis.” 

By the turn of the last quarter, the men trailed by as much as 20 before narrowing the lead to just three. The clock ran out and Queen’s lost 77-74.

After breaking a six-year drought in the playoffs last year, Barrie and the Gaels will go back to the drawing board for next season.

Queen’s has, as Barrie mentioned, found themselves playing in a perpetual state of catch-up all season. They would come out slow, stay slow, and then pick it up nearing the fourth quarter. Granted, it’s encouraging that the team has found ways to close out games in the fourth, even with nothing to close out, but it’s fair to say it cost them a deep run in the playoffs.

Barrie repeatedly told The Journal that it’s important to account for lack of senior help when judging the Gaels’ overall play. 

“When you look at it from a big picture, from being so close to knocking out uOttawa [last season], you wanna move forward,” he said. “But, again, when you lose five seniors from that team — and you don’t replace it with five other seniors — there’s going to be a significant change.” 

A bright spark during the season was fifth-year guard Sukhpreet Singh, who broke Queen’s all-time record in scoring. In his final game for Queen’s,  Singh scored 31 of the Gaels 74 points.

The biggest takeaway the Gaels can carry into next year is that change is predicated from within. It’s incumbent upon those in their upper years to lead, and to rally together a team itching for a spark.

“We have a lot of young players, and these guys … they have potential to be very good players. We feel like we have an opportunity next year — we have a chance to stabilize and be more mature.”

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