For the first time in 15 years, the Cape Breton University Capers Men’s Basketball squad is the Atlantic University Sport Champions. The Capers bested the Dalhousie Tigers and the St. FX X-Men this past weekend in front of a packed house at Center 200 here in Sydney. The Capers entered the weekend as the number one seed after compiling an 18-2 record, good for 50 points on the season. The X-Men finished with an identical record, but lost two four-point games, which, in turn, sent them into the weekend tournament as the number two seed with 48 total points.
On the opening day of the tournament the fourth seed Dalhousie Tigers slipped past the fifth seed Acadia Axemen 76–75 while the third seeded St. Mary’s Huskies whipped the number six entry in the tournament, the UPEI Panthers, 88–60. The Tigers were led to victory by First Team All-Star Simon Farine who dropped a game high 24 points on the lads from Wolfville. Acadia’s top scorer was Casey Fox with 22 points. In the second contest of the day, the Huskies had five players in double digit scoring en route to a lopsided victory over the Panthers. This set up semi-finals between St.FX and St. Mary’s while the home town Capers were set to play the defending AUS champion Dal Tigers, the same team who upset the higher seeded Capers in the conference semifinals in 2009.
In the first semifinal, the Capers made sure there was to be no upset this year by playing tremendous defense and beating the Tigers 76-60. Jimmy “Smooth” Dorsey led CBU with 25 points while Phil Nkruhmah was an absolute monster, dominating the Tigers with 19 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for a triple double. Farine led the Tigers with 23 points. The second semifinal was much closer and full of controversy as X edged the Huskies 79-78. It looked like the Huskies had the game wrapped up when AUS MVP Christian “T-Bear” Upshaw was fouled chucking up a half court desperation 3 pointer as time expired. He made two of three free throws as he broke the hearts of St. Mary’s hoop fans and in turn set up a championship game between the two top teams in the AUS.
In Sunday’s final, the Capers fell behind by as many as 14 points in the first half on some great X shooting. The local boys had a really difficult time containing ball penetration from the X guards and this freed up perimeter shooters for the visitors. Coach Jim Charters of the Capers used a time out with about four minutes left in the half and had his squad come out in a zone defense, which changed the tempo of the game and helped the Capers cut the deficit to only 3 points by half time. The Capers continued their strong play carried by two Maryland exports, Paris Carter and Jimmy Dorsey, who hit six 3-pointers each in the final. The Capers had a four-point lead going into the forth quarter and never relinquished it. They went on to out score X in the fourth 28-15 and won their first AUS championship since 1995, beating their rivals by a score 94–77. Tournament MVP “Smooth” Dorsey led the Capers with an astonishing 35-point game.
With the win, the Capers qualify for the CIS National Championship being held at Carleton University in Ottawa Friday March 19th to Sunday March 21st where the Capers will go in the number two seed out of eight teams. They open up against a tough Calgary team Friday. The Dino’s were ranked in the top 10 most of the season and Charters knows his squad will be in tough. “They are a very strong program and have been one of the tops in the country over the last number of years. In a tournament like this, you have to play your best basketball if you want to have a chance.” The Capers should have a pretty good chance as long as they can keep putting up big numbers. The team led the country in scoring this season putting up just over 90 points a game. “The Dino’s like to play a zone defense and we have been pretty successful against the zone this season, so I hope that continues for us.”
The Capers and seventh seed Dino’s will be joined by the top seed and defending champion Carleton Ravens, the third seed UBC Thunderbirds, the fourth seed Windsor Lancers, the fifth seed Saskatchewan Huskies, the sixth seed Lakehead Thunderwolves and the eighth seed UQAM Citadins. The final is slated for Sunday at 6:30pm and will be aired on TSN.