Gryphons take their shot at seventh-ranked Ottawa

GUELPH – The Guelph Gryphons took their shot at knocking off the seventh-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees, but a rushed last-second shot wouldn’t fall.

“They’re a top-10 team and we knew that it was going to be a big challenge for us, but we also thought it was a statement game for us, that we could play with them and beat them,” Gryphon coach Chris O’Rourke said. “We just turned the ball over too much. Obviously, we had difficulty with their penetration off the ball screen.”

The Gee-Gees escaped the Guelph Gryphons Athletics Centre with an 83-81 victory over the Gryphs in OUA men’s basketball play Friday night.

Guelph native Craig Valeriote took the final shot of the game from the far right corner in Ottawa’s end of the court, but it was another Guelph native really wanted to take the shot. Tommy Yanchus had been hot on three-pointers, sinking nine of them in the game, but the Gee-Gees made sure he was covered and not available as an option.

“Tommy’s been a warrior for us all year,” O’Rourke said. “I think he started off 1-for-3 or 1-for-4, but he keeps shooting. He’s got that mentality and it’s huge for us. It’s fun to watch where he’s come from in the last three and a half years.”

Yanchus knows pretty early in a game if his three-point shots are going to fall.

“Right off my first one I kind of get a feel if whether it’s coming off my hand well, but it’s really shot-to-shot whether I set my feet properly and do all my routine the proper way,” he said. “It really depends on what my look is, but as soon as I get on a roll, I guess I get the confidence going and that’s the biggest thing.”

However, Yanchus hitting threes the way he did against Ottawa might not be a good omen for the Gryphs.

“I’ve had one other one like that in my career – last year against Algoma which ended in a similar fashion with them hitting a game-winner where I hit a bunch, but never that many,” he said. “That was a good one.”

Yanchus hit seven threes and had a 30-point outing in the 84-83 loss at the GGAC last February.

Yanchus had been a solid player whose athletic prowess helped him be a leader for the Ross Royals in District 10 high school play. Since then he’s worked hard on his basketball skills to become a leader for the Gryphs they entered after having most of last season’s starters graduate.

“Tommy’s one of those guys with the cliché that you recruit character and you teach skill,” O’Rourke said. “He’s a character kid and he’s worked his butt off to be the player he is now that we all see. He’s got tremendous heart. We saw it last year and he’s going to continue to do that for us. We’d be lost without him.”

“It was a lot of time on a shooting gun or in the gym,” Yanchus said. “But I’ve got a lot of support, a lot of good friends who are good rebounding for me and getting me in for workouts and stuff.”

Despite his performance, it pales in his mind because the Gryphs still came out on the short end of the score.

“In the last game I was 0-for-8 and we won and I came in the locker room just as happy as anybody,” Yanchus said. “This game, in the end it doesn’t really matter what you do if your team loses. It’s not what we want. But I thought we put out a very good effort today and it’s something to build on.”

The game had been a see-saw affair, although both teams had their chance to pull away. The Gryphs had a nine-point lead late in the first quarter after a fast start, but the Gee-Gees reeled them in. Ottawa was up by 10 early in the third quarter, but the Gryphs clawed their way back into the match.

While Ottawa preferred to gain its points under the basket, the Gryphs used the long ball as they sank 14 three-pointers and shot 44 per cent from long distance.

The Gryphs also outrebounded Ottawa 35-22.

The Gryphs led 21-20 at the end of the first quarter before Ottawa rallied for a 41-36 lead at halftime and 62-58 advantage at the end of the third quarter.

Despite being down by five with 20 seconds to play, the Gryphs didn’t throw in the towel. Yanchus hit an off-balance three-pointer with 16 seconds to go.

“I knew we needed the points quick and I had to get something up so I just kind of put it up there and it was going down,” he said. “It worked out, I guess.”

The Gryphs were forced to foul for a chance to get the ball back and they picked the right guy as Guillaume Pepin missed two free throws, Valeriote grabbing the rebound of the second one and the Gryphs immediately calling time out so they could get possession with a throw-in at midcourt and set up a play with 13 seconds to go.

Yanchus led all scorers with 29 points, 18 coming in the second half, while Malcolm Glanville had 14, Banky Alade 12 and Aaron Nugent 11.

Calvin Epistola had 21 for Ottawa while Brandon Robinson contributed 19, Kevin Civil chipped in with 16 and Gage Sabean added 15.

The loss leaves the Gryphs at 3-6 while Ottawa moves to 7-2. Despite the loss putting an end to a three-game losing streak, the Gryphs left the floor encouraged by how far they’d progressed from the start of the season.

“We’re still growing,” O’Rourke said. “It’s a brand new team this year, really, We’ve got a lot of growth and we’re not where we’d like to be right now, but we’re certainly going in the direction.”

The Gryphs are to host the top-ranked Carleton Ravens (8-0) Sunday at 3 p.m. at the GGAC in their final game of the 2018 segment of their league schedule. It’s also their final game against an East Division opponent as the 2019 segment will be strictly against teams in their own West Division.

The locals will warm up for that portion of the season by competing in the UQAM Holiday Tournament in Montreal where they’re to play the McGill Redmen Dec. 28, UQAM Citadins Dec. 29 and Brandon Bobcats Dec. 30.


Gee-Gees 83 Gryphons 81
Ottawa     20-21-21-21–83
Guelph     21-15-22-23–81
Field-Goal Percentage: Guelph 42.0; Ottawa 49.1
Three-Point Percentage: Guelph 43.8; Ottawa 22.7
Free-Throw Percentage: Guelph 64.3; Ottawa 75.9
Turnovers: Guelph 17; Ottawa 11
Points off Turnovers: Guelph 10; Ottawa 13
Second-Chance Points: Guelph 10; Ottawa 6
Total Rebounds: Guelph 35; Ottawa 22
Offensive Rebounds: Guelph 11; Ottawa 5
Defensive Rebounds: Guelph 24; Ottawa 17
Assists: Guelph 16; Ottawa 8
Blocks: Guelph 3; Ottawa 4
Steals: Guelph 5; Ottawa 12
Fouls: Guelph 23; Ottawa 19
Rebounds: Guelph — Alade 10, Weekes 6, Glanville 5, Nwosu 4, Naus 4, Yanchus 2, Nugent 2, Valeriote 2; Ottawa — Morrison 5, Epistola 4, Pepin 3, Robinson 3, Civil 3, DeGroot 2, Sabean 1, Hamilton 1.
Assists: Guelph — Nwosu 4, Yanchus 2, Glanville 2, Alade 2, Nugent 2, Naus 2, Weekes 1, Valeriote 1; Ottawa — Epistola 4, Robinson 2, Pepin 1, Civil 1.
Steals: Guelph — Alade 2, Weekes 1, Nugent 1, Naus 1; Ottawa — Epistola 4, Civil 3, Morrison 2, Pepin 1, Robinson 1, Hamilton 1.
Blocks: Guelph — Alade 2, Yanchus 1; Ottawa — DeGroot 2, Morrison 1, Robinson 1.
Turnovers: Guelph — Alade 4, Yanchus 3, Weekes 3, Naus 2, Glanville 1, Nugent 1, Valeriote 1; Ottawa — Pepin 3, Epistola 3, DeGroot 2, Civil 2, Morrison 1.
Fouls: Guelph — Nwosu 5, Yanchus 4, Glanville 4, Nugent 4, Weekes 3, Alade 2, Valeriote 1; Ottawa — Pepin 4, DeGroot 4, Morrison 3, Robinson 2, Sabean 2, Epistola 2, Civil 2.
Points: Guelph — Yanchus 29, Glanville 14, Alade 12, Nugent 11, Weekes 9, Naus 4, Nwosu 2; Ottawa — Epistola 21, Robinson 19, Civil 16, Sabean 15, Pepin 9, Morrison 3.


  • Guelph Sports Journal