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Spartans go national
For the first time in school history, the Trinity Western Spartans are going to the national championships.
The men’s basketball team earned the honour the hard way — spending Saturday night and the early part of Sunday waiting to hear if they would receive the one available wild-card berth.
Despite being the wild-card team, the Spartans are seeded fifth for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport tournament, which kicks off on Friday at the Halifax Metro Centre.
They open against the No. 4 Lakehead Thunderwolves, the Ontario University Association champions. Lakehead pulled off an upset in the OUA final, handing the previously top-ranked Carleton Ravens their first loss in 30 games against CIS competition.
Trinity Western was a few minutes away from earning their way to nationals on Friday as they led the Saskatchewan Huskies 77-67 with 5:32 remaining in a Canada West semifinal game.
But the Huskies, the defending national champions, closed the game on a 13-1 run, with Canada West most valuable player Jamelle Barrett burying the winning jump shot with one second remaining.
The Spartans lost despite 29 points — including six three-pointers — and 12 rebounds from Jacob Doerksen, who did all that despite missing the entire second quarter because of two early fouls.
Against Alberta on Saturday night in the Canada West bronze medal game, Trinity Western overcame a 40-33 deficit to defeat the Alberta Golden Bears 82-74.
Doerksen had 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Kyle Coston had 14 and Calvin Westbrook had a dozen points.
Daniel Horner came off the bench to chip in 13 points, including three three-pointers, plus seven assists.
“I don’t think we responded all that well in the first half, I think we were really tired,” said coach Scott Allen. “Today was gut-check (time) and they found their second wind and realized they had to win that game.”
The Spartans are 24-5 on the season, but four of the losses have been to top-ranked UBC and Saskatchewan, which is No. 3.