Gryphons keep their focus for win after Yanchus injury
GUELPH – Just when the Guelph Gryphons looked like they had an excuse for turning in a poor fourth quarter, they shook it off to down the Laurier Golden Hawks 83-75 in OUA men’s basketball play Wednesday night at the Guelph Gryphons Athletic Centre.
Fifth-year Gryphon Tommy Yanchus went down with a knee injury when he landed awkwardly making a move near the Laurier net late in the third quarter with the score tied at 51. Yanchus is the second-leading scorer on the team with an average around 16 points and also the Gryphon who has taken more three-point shots (82) than any of his teammates.
The teams abandoned defensive play in the final quarter as they combined for 56 points, 32 by the Gryphs.
“We just had to impose our will as a team,” Gryphon guard Malcolm Glanville said. “Having our best player go down in the third quarter in probably one of our biggest games this year, we just had to impose our will and get this win.
“We knew this was a huge win for us to put us over Laurier in case there’s a tie or anything. With that sweep, we will be above them. It was a great team win. We all imposed our will on both ends of the floor. It wasn’t just offence. Their best player (Ali Sow) shot 5-for-20 and that was the game plan – make everything tough for him and make other guys on the team have to score. We definitely executed our game plan.”
The Gryphs also had centre Banky Alade on the sidelines. He had 13 points in the win over Ontario Tech at Oshawa Jan. 8, his seasonal debut, but hurt his shoulder two days later and is out again.
“It’s hard. We’ve been tested beyond what I think any team should be tested as far as injuries go this year,” Gryphon coach Chris O’Rourke said. “Obviously with Banky’s situation and obviously seeing Banky go down like that. It was really hard to watch. Obviously we had to try to stay in the moment and stay focused. We did talk about doing it for him and the guys stayed focused and locked in and grinded out a very good defensive win. Sweeping Laurier this year, that’s huge for us.”
“It’s the basketball gods,” Glanville said of the injuries. “It’s just been bad luck. One of our best players again, Banky Alade led Canada in rebounding last year. Not having him out on the court every day, that’s a big loss for us.”
The absence of Alade and Yanchus means other players have an opportunity to shine for the locals.
“It just shows that there’s just room for guys to step up,” Glanville said. “At the end of the day we can be sad about it, but when we’re on the court we have to wash it out and play with the guys who are on the court with us to execute that win.”
Against the Golden Hawks, the Gryphs were ahead 19-12 by the end of the first quarter and 34-27 at halftime.
Glanville had 22 points for the Gryphs while Rasheed Weekes had 16 and Yanchus 15. Kieran Naus hauled down eight rebounds while Keenan Dowell had seven assists and a block and Weekes had three steals.
Matt Minutillo had 21 points for Laurier while Sow had 18 and Ben Stevens had 11. Kemel Archer had eight rebounds while Sow had nine assists and Vladimir Lukomski had two steals.
The result leaves the Gryphs and Laurier tied for third in the West Division with the Gryphs at 6-7 and Laurier at 6-9. Guelph has two games in hand.
Western Mustangs lead the division at 11-4 and are followed by the Windsor Lancers at 7-6, Guelph, Laurier, Waterloo Warriors at 3-11 and Algoma Thunderbirds at 2-11.
The Gryphs are to host the sixth-ranked Lakehead Thunderwolves (9-3) Sunday at 2 p.m. then play Western at London next Wednesday and host Windsor three days later.
“We talked about it at the break that every game we win is just taking us a step further into the playoffs and we’ve got to scratch and claw and stay focused,” O’Rourke said. “So far this new year the guys have done a really good job of that.”
“It is a key stretch which is why today was a must win,” Glanville said. “Going into the game there was no losing in our mind. We knew we had to get this win by any means.”
Gryphons 83 Golden Hawks 75
- Guelph Sports Journal