The goal was to get to Halifax and play three games. Brock men’s basketball accomplished that, however none of that was enough to lead them to an opportunity for a national title.
A rough opening quarter on Thursday was the difference between the Badgers playing Saturday for a chance to advance to the U Sports National Championship versus them in the consolation bracket.
“Every game within a possession or two I take as a loss,” said head coach Charles Kissi. “Our guys are going to turn the ball over and make mistakes, [but] I thought there were some errors I need to be better in for our team to have that chance. That’s part of my growth as well, I have to be better in certain situations.”
Following their 78-76 loss on Thursday, the Badgers would play in the consolation bracket trying to gain more experience on the biggest stage for U Sports men’s basketball.
On Saturday, the Badgers defeated UNB 81-65 to advance to the consolation finals. Johneil Simpson, who brought his hot shooting to Halifax, scored a team-high 29 points and had 11 rebounds. Dani Elgadi scored 28 points and had nine rebounds.
The Badgers got off to a slow start against UNB, falling behind 7-0. However, a run of their own gave the Badgers a lead that they held onto the rest of the game.
In the consolation finals, the Badgers played the host Acadia Axemen. The opening quarter saw some back and forth action, but the Badgers found their groove on both ends of the floor, beating Acadia 94-57.
“I’ve been saying since day one, experience is everything,” said Kissi. “You have to get as many games in this tournament as you possibly can in order to grow and learn. If there’s anything I’m proud of, it’s the fact that every game from day one we got better.”
Simpson led the Badgers again with 34 points, while Elgadi got a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Ibrahim Ngom, who started in place of an injured Tyler Brown, scored 11 and Daniel Cayer added 10.
As the tournament went on, the Badgers seemed to become much more comfortable with their game and trusting their offense.
“It’s basketball,” said Kissi when asked if the pressure in the opening game was the difference. “We are in Halifax getting to dribble, pass and shoot with your best friends, what pressure is involved in that? It’s basketball, and they realized that and said let’s have some fun.”
The goal for the Badgers all season was to get to Halifax and that was accomplished. They now look ahead to the offseason and the 2018-19 season, which will not feature their star forward.
Elgadi finishes his fifth season with the Badgers as one of the greatest players in the programs history. The torch will now be passed on to Simpson and Ryan to lead the Badgers back to the U Sports Final 8 next season.
More coverage recapping the season for the Badgers will be included in the March 13 publication of The Brock Press.