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2014-15 Season Recap

The 2014-15 men's basketball team
The 2014-15 men's basketball team

by Duncan Forbes

People may have called this team too young, too small and too inexperienced at the beginning of the season. At the end of the season, they can only call them one thing: champions.

The Tigers men’s basketball team featured eight rookies on a roster that barely resembled last year’s squad. Despite some people’s doubts, head coach Rick Plato said there were no doubts inside the Tigers locker room.

“With an excellent recruiting class and a solid core of veterans returning, I knew that we were far better than people gave us credit for,” says Plato. “The veterans were ready to make amends for an underachieving previous season. Like I tell the boys, talk is cheap and we used it as motivation all year long.”

After dropping their first game of the season to UPEI, the Tigers went on a five-game winning streak that saw them jump out to a 5-1 record heading into the holiday break.

They finished second at the Rod and Joan Shoveller Memorial Tournament over the holiday break, only losing to Ottawa in the final, who were ranked first in the CIS at the time.
The second half of the season brought adversity, as Devon Stedman and Jonathan Kamba suffered season-ending injuries.
The Tigers limped into the playoffs as they ended the second half of their season with a 5-9 mark, leaving them in fifth-place with a 10-10 record.
This pitted them against the Cape Breton Capers in the quarter-final of the AUS championship. After getting off to a slow start, the Tigers found themselves down double-digits early. They clawed back, and with 24 seconds left, Jarred Reid hit a huge jumper at the end of the shot clock to tie the game up at 60. The Capers had the final possession, but Sven Stammberger came up with a huge steal on the inbounds, and he got the ball to Kashrell Lawrence, who hit a buzzer beater that brought the crowd to its feet as they moved onto the semis to take on first-place UNB.
After coming from behind to beat UNB in the semifinals, the Tigers faced the Saint Mary’s Huskies in the championship final. Despite being down by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Tigers rallied back and forced overtime. They took over in overtime, outscoring the Huskies 15-5 in the extra frame to take their third banner in seven years, in front of a rowdy Tigers crowd.
Kashrell Lawrence was named the championship MVP after dropping 31 points and grabbing 17 boards in the final. He, along with Ritchie Kanza-Mata and Sven Stammberger, were named to the championship all-star team for their strong play. Lawrence was also named an AUS first team all-star, while Sean Dodds was named to the all-rookie squad and Kanza-Mata was named the defensive player of the year.
As the fifth seed at the CIS championship, the Tigers faced the number four University of Victoria in the quarter-final round. The Tigers led by as many as 10 in the first half, but the Vikes pulled ahead to start the second half. In the end, the Tigers came up short, falling 57-56. The loss pitted the Tigers up against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in the consolation semifinal.
Despite holding a six-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Tigers CIS run came to an end with a 79-90 loss to the Huskies. Sven Stammberger had a career-high 34 points in the contest.