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Wolves beat Gee-Gees, off to nationals

The Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s basketball team is headed to the national championships for the first time in 33 years.
The Lakehead Thunderwolves men’s basketball team is headed to the national championships for the first time in 33 years.

The Wolves, down by seven heading into the final quarter, stormed back and then held on to defeat the Ottawa Gee Gees 78-73 in Saturday afternoon’s OUA bronze-medal game, earning themselves a return trip to the national capital next weekend and a shot the Canadian Interuniversity Sport title.

Post Yoosrie Salhia, who had 16 points and 11 boards in the victory, said it feels great to still be in the hunt for a title.

“We had a second chance and we had to take the opportunity and make the best of it. Ottawa was tough, but ... we got the best of them,” Salhia said.

It marked Lakehead’s first win at Montpetit Hall in nearly a decade. It’s a bit of a relief, said Salhia, the top offensive rebounder in the OUA this season.

“Our regular season got off to a great start. We finished off not too well, except for right now. This was our biggest win of the whole season. We’re going to nationals now and we’ve got until next Friday to (figure out) how to win,” Salhia said.

Guard Greg Carter, who hit a key basket in the waning minutes of the contest as Ottawa was trying to mount a desperate comeback from a 10-point deficit, said it was extra special winning in front of his hometown fans.

“It feels amazing right now, playing at home with my friends and family here. It just makes me play a lot better, up to my level,” said Carter.

He hopes the support continues next weekend.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere at nationals for us. It’s the first time we’ve been here in a long time, so we’re here to make noise, you know,” Carter said.

It was a second-chance opportunity the Wolves made good on, after losing the OUA West final to Windsor last weekend. Because Carleton is hosting nationals and had already earned a spot in the tournament, the OUA division finalist losers got to play for the second OUA berth.
The Final 8 is scheduled to begin on March 19.

Besides Lakehead, Windsor and Carleton, the Saskatchewan Huskies and Calgary Dinos have both qualified for nationals.

Two more teams will emerge from the Quebec and Atlantic conferences, and there is one wild-card slot, meaning Lakehead will be seeded no worse than seventh.

Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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