While both the Fanshawe Falcons men’s and women’s basketball teams wrapped up their regular season Sunday (Feb. 17) on a high note, the squads are now on two different paths. One team will be looking to the future and forgetting about their season-ending funk, while the other will be looking to hang on to their 2012-13 glory.
The lady Falcons beat up on the winless Sault Ste Marie Cougars in front of a home crowd to close the season with a 53-27 win to push their consecutive victory streak to 12 games
The biggest win on the year for the Fanshawe women’s team might have come Saturday (Feb. 16), when they beat the second-place West Division Algoma Thunderbirds 61-52.
The victory, though, was more than just a battle for the top-seed in the conference as it proved to the squad they could beat any opponent with the Thunderbirds being the last school to beat the Falcons this year, back on Nov. 24, on just a two-loss season for Fanshawe.
“Provided we’re healthy, having gone through the schedule and having success through each of the teams it certainly does provide us with something to draw on as far as confidence,” said Falcons’ women coach Matt White. “Playoffs are a whole different season. Once you get to the tournament it’s 0-0 and you got to play games and it’s single elimination, so a stretch of a bad five to 10 minutes can do a team in.”
The Falcons have been relentless on the court, but if opponents want to step up to the London school at the Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) championships, they’ll have to watch game tape of the team to get an edge rather than just look at the stat sheet. The provincial tourney runs Feb. 28 to March 2 at Humber College in Toronto.
In Fanshawe’s opening six games, where they picked up a 4-2 record, they averaged 67.83 points per game (PPG) and 46.5 points against. During the remainder of the year, they averaged 67.27 points per game and 50.45 points a game.
“It’s just a process. Day in and day out just trying to get better individually and collectively,” White said. “Coming back after the semester break there was just a buy-in with better understanding of awareness of what we’re trying to achieve. The girls are working really as hard as we’ve pushed them and they’ve met the challenge every step of the way.”
There’s no doubt if the other schools want to shutdown Fanshawe they’ll have to put a stop to point guard Felicia Mazerolle who lead her team in scoring with 15.3 PPG (ninth in the OCAA), but the Falcons do have a lot of threats and seem to figuring out the pieces as they build up their success.
Fanshawe had only two games where seven players scored more than five points in the starting 12 matchups. In the last four games they’ve managed to have eight players collect a handful three times. That’s a lot of production for a team that manages to put up less than 70 on the scoreboard.
“We’re difficult to game plan for because we don’t just have that one go-to scorer, although Felicia has provided that at times,” White said. “Really, every kid on the team has got a green light and we’ve got capable scores. The nice thing is the team is very unselfish in moving the ball.”
After the women left the court, the Falcons men hit the hardwood to win a 71-52 battle against the Cougars. The victory makes it back-to-back for them after beating the Thunderbirds 92-89 Saturday and washes the stench of a four game losing streak.
More importantly, the wins secure a spot to provincial championship tournament.
“Everybody is critical of this team, including the coaching, but these kids got two big wins,” said Fanshawe men’s coach Tony Marcotullio. “They grinded both games out and I’m really proud of them. It’s not about the W, it’s about playing and grinding things out.
The Falcon men have been a juggernaut on offence picking up the second-most amount of points in the 22-team OCAA and collecting eight 90-point games in their 20 matchups — a tough feat in college basketball.
But like inflation, if the offensive stats rise then usually the opponent’s points rise too.
In the 11-team West Division, Fanshawe is looking like they’ll have given up the sixth most amount of points this season.
The only teams to give up more are the division’s best offensive team in Niagara College, Redeemer College who has had their best season on record with seven wins, and Lambton, St. Clair and Canadore who all in the conference basement.
“We can’t allow so many easy second opportunities and straight drives to the basket,” Marcotullio said. “That’s on the coaches. The coaches got to take that on the chin and figure out a better way to talk to the men about this not being done. We got to force the uncontrolled dribble and play accordingly.”
That’s not to say the Falcons don’t have a good shot at the provincial finale with the West Division having a bit of a log jam going from the second-place Falcons (with a 14-6 record) to the fifth-seeded Thunderbirds (11-8).
A year of scrappiness can make any team, or even individual players, go wild when they’re released at the OCAA showdown, held Feb. 28 to March 2 at Seneca College in Toronto for the men.