Ravens rule CIS roost again

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

The kids were going to party, the coach was going to bed, but they were all going to savour it one way or another.

The Carleton Ravens won their sixth national men's basketball title in seven years yesterday with an 87-77 win over the UBC Thunderbirds at Scotiabank Place.

It was especially sweet for fifth-year veterans Aaron Doornekamp, Stu Turnbull and Rob Saunders, whose university careers ended with the sound of the buzzer.

Unlike Saturday night's last-second nailbiter, the estimated crowd of 8,000 knew it was over when Carleton had the ball with 23 seconds to go and was up by 10.

They rose to their feet and cheered until Saunders jumped on Turnbull as he dribbled the clock away.

"I'm going to do some partying, then catch up on some schoolwork," Saunders said between sweaty hugs from fans.

Saunders was named player of the game for Carleton, not just for his 18 points but for the shutdown defence he played against UBC's sharpshooter Chris Dyck, who scored only four points in the second half and finished with 21.

"It was the right decision for me to come here," said Saunders, the CIS defensive player of the year. "Us seniors going out, we did it for the program, the guys who brought us in, and the four seniors last year. They didn't get their national championship, those are some of my best friends, and watching that was terrible, so we wanted to go out there and get it for them."

Ravens coach Dave Smart was already looking to next year.

"We'll meet (tomorrow) to send the fifth-year guys off and figure out what we have to do to get back here next year," he said. "The head is a little tired, I haven't slept for more than two hours the past four nights, but we'll catch up on that."

The 87 points were the most the Ravens have scored in any of their six title wins. Turnbull, the Ravens' All Canadian from Kingston, led the way again with 22 points. Fourth-year forward Kevin McCleery of Ottawa, who will be a key if Carleton gets back next year, added 15 and eight rebounds.

SUPPORT NOT GREAT

Unfortunately, Carleton's success on the court hasn't been matched by fan support.

Attendance for the three-day tournament was 73,126 -- including 15,852 combined for the two games yesterday. That wasn't as high as anticipated, said Carleton athletic director Jennifer Brenning, the tournament chairwoman.

"I'm a bit disappointed, but we're head-to-head with the 67's and the retirement of (Brian) Kilrea, so that would be a factor, and it's a beautiful day out," she said.

Brenning said the tournament lost money last year, and she just hoped to break even this year. Carleton has one more year of hosting the Final 8 before it moves back to Halifax for 2011 and 2012.

She didn't bid for those championships, and is debating whether she'll try to bring it back for 2013.

"They changed the funding structure, so the CIS holds over 60% of corporate advertising inventory and the host gets the balance. The concept is the host is to purely concentrate on ticket sales," she said.

SHANE.ROSS@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos