ANCASTER, Ont. - In one of the biggest games in Redeemer history, the Royals men's basketball team knocked off the undefeated Sheridan Bruins 96-78. With the win, the Royals enter the Christmas break in first place with an 8-1 record. The Bruins entered the match as the No. 2-ranked team in the country, while the Royals occupied No. 10.
The win snapped the Bruins dominant win streak in the OCAA, having won their previous 32 regular season games. The last lost for Sheridan to an OCAA opponent in a regular season game came on Jan. 12, 2016. Ironically, the opponent was the Royals, having won that match 88-85.
Despite the 18-point spread in Friday's game, the victory did not come easy for Redeemer. After jumping out to a 21-12 lead after the first quarter, the Bruins tied up the game midway through the second quarter at 36-36 following a 15-6 run. Once the match was tied, Redeemer's boisterous home crowd took over, sparking the Royals to a dominant run of their own. A 24-5 stretch for the home team into the third quarter proved to be the difference in the game as Sheridan was unable to make up the gap throughout the fourth quarter.
The Royals had impressive offensive performances from a number of starters including 27 points from all-Canadian Rayvon Higdon. Nick Green and Foster Brown both added double-digit points with 19 and 18, respectively. Defensively, the Royals held Sheridan to a season-low 78 points, largely due to the stellar play of Redeemer's Zack Angus. The Bruins entered the match averaging over 100 points per game. Angus put pressure on the Bruins every time they had the ball, creating countless turnovers and adding four steals, six rebounds, and two blocks.
"I'm very proud of our team", commented Royals head coach Jamie Girolametto post-game. "Not only for Friday night, but for the semester. The guys did an excellent job of following the game plan against Sheridan. Our starters were strong and we got important minutes from our bench, especially from guys like Benn (Ibrahim), Mo (Brown), and Caleb (Grant)."
The Royals now enter 2018 in unchartered territory. Only two years removed from a 6-12 record, and missing the playoffs, Redeemer finds itself in first place nine games in. Despite the pressure that will come as a result of their historic first semester, it appears that the Royals are ready to face it head-on in 2018. A motivated group of athletes coupled with a knowledgeable and talented coaching staff, appears to have the Royals ready to accept the move from their previous underdog role to their new position as one of the favorites to compete for the OCAA championship.
Tip-off for the second semester gets underway on Jan. 11, when Redeemer travels to Lambton, looking for their ninth win of the season.
Source: Redeemer University College