By Brent Sabino

      LATEST NEWS       

March 9, 2004

The Vanier College Men’s AAA Basketball Team is off to the National Championships for the first time since 1990 after a strong silver medal performance at the Provincial Championship this past weekend at John Abbott College. The Nationals will take place from March 18th – 20th, at Cariboo College in Kamloops, British Columbia.

At the Provincials this past Saturday, the Cheetahs got revenge against arch-rival Dawson with a hard-fought 72-70 decision. The Dawson Blues had defeated Vanier twice this season. This was a reversal of last season, when the Cheetahs captured both regular season games, only to lose to the Blues at the Provincials.

Coach Andy Hertzog’s troops played very well against Dawson in the first half and brought a 38-28 lead into halftime. The Blues then went on a second half run that gave them a 5-point advantage before the Cheetahs stormed back to go ahead by 5, a lead that they would never relinquish. Vanier’s Player-of-the-Game was Dwayne Buckley, who netted 24 points and hauled in 12 rebounds. This allowed Buckley to reach the 1500-point plateau for his Vanier career, an exclusive club which his brother Damian had joined a few weeks earlier. Damian Buckley notched 11 points and 8 helpers. Paget Berridge also contributed 11 points, while Jerreh Saidybah added 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Colson Senat, in his first game since December, gave his teammates a huge lift with 6 points off the bench.

The Cheetahs fell short in the final on Sunday, losing 72-60 to #1 ranked Champlain St. Lambert. Vanier trailed only 32-29 after a well-played first half. The second half was a see-saw battle with the Cheetahs taking a 42-41 lead before Champlain came storming back for the win. Dwayne Buckley was the Vanier Player-of-the-Game once again with an 18-point – 9 rebound effort. Paget Berridge tallied 16 points and added 5 rebounds while Damian Buckley had 11 points and 6 assists in the loss.

The Provincial festivities began on Friday with a 2-Ball competition which the Cheetahs’ Colson Senat and the Lady Cheetahs’ Dranadia Roc took home the title. Roc was named to the second All-Star team despite missing the first semester of the season. Vanessa Danisi was named the Lady Cheetahs’ Academic All-Star.

Damian Buckley

On the men’s side, Mathieu Lord was named the Cheetahs’ academic all-star. Jerreh Saidybah was named to the second All-Star team for the second consecutive year. He was joined on the second team by Paget Berridge.

Damian Buckley was named to the first All-Star team and an all-Canadian for the second straight year. This is the first time ever that a Vanier player was named an all-Canadian two years in a row. Damian was also selected as the league’s outstanding player and is the FQSE nominee for the CCAA National Player of the Year award.

Elsewhere, the Men’s AA Cheetahs defeated Montmorency 69-63 this past Friday at the Vanier College Sports Complex. Coach Bengi Vidicek’s gang trailed 37-31 at the half before rallying for the win. Fahad Beg held the hot hand once again for the Cheetahs with 17 points while Frederice Bernard made a big contribution off the bench with 13 points. Ashley Oziegbe chipped in with 11 points and Nathan Grant played a terrific defensive game. Vanier is now 11-4 and remains undefeated in the second half of the schedule. They look primed to defend their Provincial Championship and can finish in a first place tie with a win over Ahuntsic this Friday at the Vanier College Sports Complex. Game time is 7:00 p.m.