The Dalhousie men’s basketball team will be flying across the country to Vancouver in less than two weeks to compete for a national title.
On Sunday, the Tigers won the Atlantic University Sports (AUS) championships 87-85 in a close game against the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) Panthers.
This win means they’ve secured a spot at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) finals.
They also secured a spot in Dalhousie history. They are the first Tigers basketball team to ever win consecutive AUS championships.
“The way I looked at it, what we had last year was so exciting and so special – I wanted to have that feeling again,” said Sven Stammberger, a third year Dal player.
“We fought our hearts out and luckily, we got it.”
He said the players have been practising hard and staying focused over the past few weeks in hopes of having that winning feeling again.
Sunday night’s final at the Scotiabank Centre was a hard-fought battle. UPEI and Dal took turns leading the game on several occasions.
The tight game brought tension levels up for players – and coaches. UPEI head coach Tim Kendrick was given a technical foul in the fourth quarter, as he argued against a lack of calls by the referees.
“I don’t even recognize the sport we’re playing,” Kendrick called to the referees as one of his players lay on the floor and was then helped off the court.
Every point counted in the last few seconds of the game, but Dalhousie made it out on top.
The Tigers finished the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) regular season in first place, giving them an automatic bye into the championship semifinal on Saturday.
They clawed through a tight match-up against the Saint Mary’s Huskies in a true Halifax showdown, winning 75-74.
With nationals just around the corner, Stammberger said they’ll be back in the gym very soon.
“We’re going to have a fun night,” he said with a laugh. “Then we’ll focus up for nationals to hopefully do better than last year.”
In the CIS championships last year, Dalhousie was out after quarterfinals because of a one-point loss to the University of Victoria.
This year’s championships will run March 17-20 at the University of British Columbia.