The Martlet and Redmen basketball teams ended regular season play on Feb. 24, as they each took down the Université du Québec à Montréal Citadins. The women pulled out a close 59-51 victory, while the men clipped the Citadins 74-57 in back-to-back games. The Martlets enter the playoffs as defending National Champions, but with an 11-5 conference record, they’re ranked only sixth in the nation this season. The men hold a commanding 14-2 conference record and RSEQ regular season pennant, which likewise places them in sixth nationally.
The Martlets began the 2017-18 regular season with their sights set on defending their national title, but a tough loss in a championship rematch against Laval in the season opener foreshadowed the trials facing the Martlets en route to their goal. For Head Coach Ryan Thorne’s team, replicating last season’s success was all about finding balance and leaning on rookie talents like Charlotte Clayton, Maggy Chabot, and Kamsi Ogbudibe.
“Our young players have really come in and contributed,” Thorne said. “You might not see it show up on a stats sheet, but it’s that breather they give to the veterans [….Contributing] here and there […] really helps us out.”
The regular season ended with a few difficult results, however, as the Martlets dropped three of their final five games—including two tough away losses to first-place Laval. Thorne remains confident in his team and trusts their ability to move past the shortcomings of the regular season.
“We’ve just got to be focused on playing our game and not ghosts of [this season] and just be confident in what we do,” Thorne said.
The Martlets will take on the Bishop’s Gaiters in the RSEQ semi-finals on Feb. 28. McGill has taken their last two matchups against Bishop’s, and another win in the semifinal round will earn them a spot in the provincial final on March 3.
The Redmen had a consistent, exceptionally successful season. With a deep rotation, the Redmen thrived by maintaining their high-tempo style of play on both ends of the court.
“We have the deepest bench in the league,” Head Coach David Deaveiro wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “There is no drop off when
we go to the bench, and expectations remain the same whoever is on the floor.”
The Redmen finished the season on a seven-game winning streak, which was in large part due to the transcendent play of fourth-year point-guard Alex Paquin.
“[Learning to utilize Paquin] might have been the most influential moment for us this year,” DeAveiro wrote. “[Paquin] has added a dimension on offence that we have never had.”
More important than any individual contribution, however, was the team’s collective work throughout the season. The Redmen’s consistency helped them secure a 14-2 record, placing them six points ahead of second-place rivals, the Concordia Stingers.
“[The team’s] commitment to change, the daily grind mentally, and their unselfishness […] is the recipe for our success,” DeAveiro wrote.
For DeAveiro’s squad, the first goal was to capture the regular season title. Ranked sixth in the nation, they’ve now shifted their sights toward winning the RSEQ championship banner. As with the Martlets, this task begins Feb. 28 against Bishop’s, a team the Redmen beat in three of their four contests this season. If they’re successful, they will tip-off against the winner of the Laval-UQAM semifinal on March 3.