X-Men clinch first place with win over Capers

Photo credit Bryan Kennedy
Photo credit Bryan Kennedy

ANTIGONISH, NS - The STFX X-Men clinched first place in the Atlantic University Sports regular season with an exciting, hard fought 88-85 win over the Cape Breton Capers on Saturday night on Coach K Court in Antigonish.

The win earns the X-Men a first round bye in the upcoming AUS playoff tournament. The loss was a devasting one for the Capers, who with 18 points tied with UPEI fall just out of playoff contention as the Panthers hold the tiebreaker over the Capers.

Bennett Grumbach (Toronto, ON) came up big for the X-Men, with 21 points, including five three-pointers, five rebounds and three assists. Dondre Reddick (Antigonish, NS) hit 10 free throws for the home team, picking up 16 points and six rebounds along the way, and Jeremiah Usiosefe (Hamilton, ON) chipped in with 15 points, and 9 rebounds.

Tyson Cato (Ajax, ON) lead the way for the Capers, with a game high 28 points and six rebounds, while Mitchell Mersereau (Sydney, NS) added 17 points and three rebounds, and Shakael Pryce (Pickering, ON) had a double-double with 16 points and 11 assists.

It was a back and forth game early on, with neither team able to establish a long lasting lead. A three from Justus Peuser (Geisenheim, GR) put the Capers up by one halfway through the quarter, the next three minutes saw the X-Men pull away a bit, and a Marcus Upshaw (Burlington, ON) triple put the home team up by five. The Capers pulled to within one late in the quarter, and it was 19-18 in favour of the X-Men after 10 minutes.

The lead changed hands a couple of times in the first two minutes of the second quarter, but two straight triples from the X-Men and a Usiosefe score off his own rebound made it a 31-23 game two minutes later. The Capers replied with back to back triples of their own, and it was a one point game midway through. Five straight points from Mersereau highlighted a big run by the Capers, and the visitors lead 46-38 at halftime.

The Capers shot well in the first half, hitting 42 percent from the floor, and 40 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the X-Men picked up 17 points off the bench.

The X-Men had the first six points of the third quarter, and a Dondre Reddick (Antigonish, NS) free throw tied the game at 50 with four minutes gone. The teams traded buckets for much of the rest of the quarter, and the Capers held a one point advantage going the final minute, and the quarter ended with the visitors ahead 63-62.

Cato opened the scoring in the final quarter, leading to a 6-2 run by the Capers, who went up by six in the first four minutes. A highlight 'and-one' from Gatluak James (Windsor, ON) made it a one point game about midway through the final quarter, and a pair of triples from Usiosefe put the home team ahead by five with two minutes to go.

A Cato put back made it a three point game with 20 seconds to, but STFX was able to withstand a final Caper push and walk off the court with an 88-85 win.  

The AUS championship is scheduled for Feb. 23-25 in Halifax at the Scotiabank Centre. The top seeded X-Men have earned a bye directly into the semifinal game. They will play the winner of the Memorial-UNB on Saturday at 3:00 pm.

Prior to the game the X-Men honoured graduating student-athletes Dondre Reddick, Steven Levnaic, Antoine Vernon, Marcus Upshaw and Doen Ejim.


Recap courtesy Matt Draper, STFX Athletics