February 6, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 71  

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Ballers hang with tough Gryphons Squad

By James Hayes
Gazette Writer

Matt Prince/Gazette
KEEP REACHING FOR THAT RAINBOW. Mustangs’ forward Daron Leonard competes with a Guelph player — most likely a farmer in the offseason — for a rebound during Wednesday night’s game.

The Western Mustangs’ men’s basketball team had a tough game against the Guelph Gryphons — not the Griffins — although Family Guy’s lovable Peter, Chris and Bryan the dog would be a formidable force on the hardwood.

Western fought hard, but couldn’t quite get it done Wednesday night, falling to the Gryphons 79-69 at Alumni Hall. The team played a competitive first half, grabbing a five point lead being aggressive on the glass and playing good defense. A clutch three-pointer by Western guard Darren Veira with five seconds left in the half cut the Guelph lead to two going into the break.

However, the Gryphons were just a little too tough for the Mustangs in the second half, with great ball movement and strong interior defense leaving most of the Mustangs’ chances to chip away at the lead from the foul line. The Grypons also got quite hot in the second half, with an efficient offense that light it up from beyond the arc.

Despite the outcome, Western did a great job of keeping it close against a Guelph team ranked second in the West Division of Ontario University Athletics and eighth in Canada.

Guelph moved to 12-5 with the win, nudging within two points of the West-leading McMaster Marauders in the OUA West’s standings. Following the loss, Western is 4-13.

“It was a difficult game,” said Guelph head coach Chris O’Rourke. “Western is a team that is a lot better than their record suggests. We tried to make it a goal to contain [Adam] Peaker, which is really tough to do; he is a first-team all-star for sure.”

Peaker felt that he didn’t shoot the ball as well as he would’ve liked, although he did shoot at a 50 per cent clip from the floor and finished with 22 points and nine rebounds. Western forward Daron Leonard chipped in with a solid double-double — 15 points and 12 boards. Starting first-year guard James Harrison also poured in 18 points.

But Guelph was just a little too tough, with upper-year standouts Kyle Julius and Radhi Knapp dropping 28 and 26 points, respectively. Guelph also played tough defense, particularly in the second half, causing a number of turnovers and making the possibility of a late-game comeback look bleak.
“We displayed a good effort out there tonight and hung in there through the entire game,” Peaker said. “We would be better to have some more communication on defense and a more consistent ability to run our offense.”

Western coach Craig Boydell was very pleased with his team’s efforts. “We played hard on defense the whole game. We’re a young team who’s been banged up, so when you take that into consideration we played a great game. Hopefully, we can get some healthy bodies back for upcoming games. But overall I’m pleased with how we’ve been showing steady improvement.”

“Guelph is a very tough team to handle, with a number of standouts,” Boydell said. “It’s great to see that we’re a team that’s been getting better every single game, and as for the rest of the season, we’re not going away.”

The Mustangs’ next game is this Saturday at 2 p.m., where they hope to get back on track against Brock University at Alumni Hall.



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