By Sean Fitz-Gerald
The Ryerson men’s basketball team will wear Cinderella’s glass slippers on Saturday when it plays in the provincial championship for the first time in the school’s 51-year history.
With the wins over top-seed Laurentian University and second-place Carleton University in the OUA East division playoffs at York University last week, the Rams also clinch a spot in the eight-team national championship in Halifax next weekend.
“It hasn’t hit me yet, I’m just so happy,” said rookie forward Jan-Michael Nation.
When the final buzzer sounded in Ryerson’s 50-44 win over Carleton in the OUA East final, Rams players rushed the court in celebration.
“I was gonna cry near the end of the game because I was so happy,” said Nation, who was named game and tournament Most Valuable Player.
Minutes after the post-game interview, Nation walked over to his teammates still huddled near the centre court and began to cry.
The Rams will play the OUA West championships, the Wester Mustangs, for the provincial title. The game is in London at the University of Western Ontario.
Rams centre Sasha Ivankovic said he hopes fans will travel to Western to support the team this Saturday. At last Thursday’s and Frida’s playoff games at York, Ryerson fans filled more than half the stands and exploded every time the Rams made a play.
“I love them, I wish we had them for every game,” he said. “We’d be undefeated if we had these fans all the time.”
After the final game, rookie forward Ben Gorham couldn’t stop smiling. The first-year business student scored only 13 points in the win against Carleton, but torched the Laurentian Voyageurs the night before with 27 points.
“I’ve played basketball for a long time and I’ve been on a lot of teams, but this is the best win so far,” Gorham said.
Gorham, who was named OUA East rookie of the year two nights earlier, triumphantly hoisted a trophy over his head after the victory.
But the trophy isn’t for keeps yet. Laurentian, last year’s OUA champs, brought the Wilson Cup to York. Ryerson will take it to London for Saturday’s game. The trophy is theirs if they beat the Mustangs.
Only 100 tickets for the game will be sold at the for $5 at the RAC starting Wednesday. Ryerson athletics has made arrangements for three buses to take fans to Western, for $5 a student.