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Redmen captain Vincent Dufort takes iti to the hole (LA Benoit/ McGill Tribune)

Redmen struggle, Martlets shine in annual Redbird Classic

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Martlets

Coming off their third RSEQ Championship in as many years, the McGill Martlets swept the Redbird Classic with wins over Lakehead, Regina, and Toronto.

The Martlets took control of their first game early with an 18-8 lead after the first quarter, but the Lakehead Timberwolves stormed back in the second and McGill went into halftime clinging to a one-point lead. Led by junior centre Alexandria Kiss-Rusk, the Martlets blew the game wide open as they outscored the Timberwolves by 18 in the second half. Kiss-Rusk and reigning RSEQ Player-of-the-Year Mariam Sylla combined for 27 points, and 5’4” point guard Marika Guerin pulled down a game high nine rebounds.

In their second game, the Martlets jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, en route to a 73-41 drubbing of the Regina Cougars. While Sylla had trouble shooting all night—connecting on just one of her 10 attempts—she took advantage of free throws, shooting nine for 10 from the charity stripe. The starters struggled throughout the night, but the bench picked up the slack, scoring 46 of the team’s 73 points. Sophomore guard Carolann Cloutier came off the bench to lead the team with a game high 16 points on 86 per cent shooting, including a perfect four for four from three point range.

Cloutier cooled off in the tournament finale, but the Martlets stayed red-hot, downing the Toronto Varsity Blues 68-59. Sylla led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the tournament. Senior point guard Dianna Ros facilitated the lethal McGill offence with four assists to go along with her 17 points.

The Martlets will head down south to take on the Maine Black Bears, of the NCAA, on Nov. 1 in what will be a good measuring stick for this year’s potent squad. Their RSEQ season kicks off on Nov. 6 at Love Competition Hall against the Bishop’s Gaiters.

Redmen

After back-to-back RSEQ Championships, the McGill Redmen hosted their annual Redbird Classic tournament at Love Competition Hall this past weekend. The Redmen, 3-3 in preseason, opened the tournament against an inexperienced St. Francis Xavier squad. McGill found themselves down by 11 at the start of the fourth quarter, but stingy defensive play allowed the Redmen to claw back and tie it up late. Captain Vincent Dufort led the way with 20 points and 10 boards while sophomore power forward Francois Borque picked up where he left off after his exceptional freshman season, posting an impressive double-double. Borque tied it up at 65-65 with four seconds left, but the X-Men pulled away in overtime en route to a 77-73 victory.

Day two of the tournament saw the Redmen take on the Brock Badgers, and once again McGill fell behind in the first quarter as they dealt with turnover issues and poor shooting. Sophomore forward Michael Peterkin proved to be the spark plug in the second half, catching fire from beyond the arc and scoring 12 of his 16 points from deep. The Redmen stormed back in the second half, finally pulling ahead in the fourth quarter with backup point guard Jenning Leung leading the way. Leung scored a game high 17 points—including two ‘and-one’ plays—as well as a buzzer beating three at the end of the third.

“I’ve been struggling with my shot recently,” Leung said.  “So it was nice to see them finally go in, especially that half court shot. I just saw the ball rolling […] so I decided to pick it up and throw it because there wasn’t much time, and it went in.”

After his big game against the Badgers, Leung found himself in the starting lineup against the CIS top-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Redmen fell behind early, however, and never got back into it, losing 88-56. It’s early, but the Redmen clearly still have a few kinks to work out if they want to compete for the CIS title this season.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s only October,” Coach Dave DeAverio said. “You’re going to make a lot of mistakes in October, as we did last year [….] The idea is to just get better and better every day.”

The Redmen finish off their pre-season in St. Catherines at the RBC Brock Classic, where they will take on Windsor, York, and Ryerson. On Nov. 8, they return home to take on a tough Bishop’s Gaiters team in what could be a RSEQ Championship game preview.

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