Volume 94, Issue 94

Tuesday, March 20, 2001


Heartbreak in Halifax

X-men exterminate the Bobcats

No method to the madness of March - Upsets and surprises mark NCAA basketball

Western treating fans to a good ride

X-men exterminate the Bobcats

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

HALIFAX, NS – And this year's Oscar for best performance goes to...

The St. Francis Xavier X-Men for their thrilling, suspenseful and sometimes gut-wrenching play on their way to becoming the 2001 Canadian Intercollegiate Athletics men's basketball champions.

In a script worthy of Hollywood cinema, the X-men were able to fend off the pesky Brandon Bobcats in an 82-76 overtime victory, winning the annual Final Eight tournament in Halifax.

The X-Men owned Brandon in the single overtime period, outscoring them 11-4, though the real theatrics of the game came with no time left in regulation play and the score tied 72-72.

X-Men forward Denny Oliver needed to hit only one of two foul shot opportunities to seal St. FX's second consecutive national title.

Oliver was awarded the foul shots after Bobcat guard Don Phillips was assessed an offensive foul while trying to corral a rebound. Oliver was then given the two-shot bonus opportunity with no time on the clock.

With the hometown crowd ready to rush the floor in victory and the W.P. McGee trophy shining in the background, Oliver clanked both of his shots, sending the game into overtime.

"I was so nervous I thought I was going to have to run to the bathroom," said fifth-year senior and the X-Men's vocal leader, Fred Perry, who was seen frantically pacing along the sidelines while Oliver stepped to the line.

Despite the devastating misses the X-Men were able to dominate the extra period, much to the delight of their coach and former national team head coach, Steve Konchalski.

"A lot of teams could have put their head down and just say, 'this isn't our game to win,' but we just stepped it up," he said.

Konchalski, who is now in his 26th year of coaching at St. FX, believed his team has now stepped up to another echelon and joined some of the tremendous squads he's coached during his career.

"We've shown great heart and great character," Konchalski said. "Winning back-to-back titles has earned us the right to have tremendous pride in what we have done. This takes us to a different level."

In a game that almost mirrored the Bobcats, performance in its semi-final game against Western, Brandon did not make a run at the X-Men until about five minutes into the second half, when the streaky-shooting team started to consistently hit their shots.

Brandon was able to take the lead at the 4:40 mark and the teams entered a dog fight from then on.

In overtime, the Bobcats generated few good scoring opportunities.

"We took some tough shots in overtime," said Brandon coach, Jerry Hemmings. "There were too many missed shots to give ourselves a chance."

Brandon also fell to the X-Men in last year's Final Eight finale 61-60.

"They're a great team and they have great players," Perry said. "We've had our hands full over the last two years."

X-Men point guard Randy Nuhr, the tournament's MVP, scored 13 points and dished out 12 assists while turning the ball over only once.

Oliver finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Perry helped out with 15 points.

Bell led the Bobcats with 21 points and 9 boards while guard Tyrone Smith netted 19 points.

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