SACKVILLE, N.B. — Upsets make collegiate basketball that much more exciting, except for the team that comes up on the losing end.
In the 2017-16 ACAA Championships, the Mount Allison Mounties received a bye to the semi-finals and were in a great position to advance to the title game and compete for a spot at the CCAA National Championships. They were matched up with the Crandall Chargers with a spot in the finals on the line. While the Mounties were the favourites, anything can happen in single-elimination games.
The Chargers came out of the gates strong, pressuring the Mounties from the opening tip and never letting Mount Allison get a sniff of the lead.
After the first half, Crandall led the Mounties by 17 points, 46-29. They held Mount Allison to just 12 points in the second quarter to push their lead to double digits. While the Mounties would outscore the Chargers in the second half, the first half deficit was too much to overcome. The Mounties fell to the Chargers in the ACAA semi-finals, 90-75.
With that game now a distant memory, a veteran Mounties roster will be looking for more in 2018-19. With several key contributors back in the mix this season, Mount Allison will be looking to get back to the ACAA title game and make their way back to the national championship tournament.
Last season, the Mounties finished the regular season with a record of 15-6 against ACAA opponents. They finished five games behind the Holland Hurricanes for top spot in the league, but they still earned a bye in the post-season. Mount Allison was neck-and-neck with the Hurricanes over the course of the season, but lost their momentum over the final 10 games of the year.
Over their final 10 games of the regular season, the Mounties went just 5-5 to play themselves out of the running for the league crown.
Mount Allison finished a game ahead of both Crandall and the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics in the standings. In the playoff meeting between the Mounties and Chargers, the starters for Mount Allison accounted for 68 of the team’s 75 total points. Mack Chisholm posted a game-high 24 points in the loss.
Heading into the 2018-19 season, Chisholm and company will be looking to make up for lost time and avoid another early exit in the post-season.
Chisholm will be entering his fourth year of eligibility in 2018-19. The native of Fall River, Nova Scotia appeared in 20 games last season, making 19 starts. He averaged 9.4 points per game on 61.2% shooting from the floor. The 6’1” guard saved one of his best performances for the post-season, as he scored his 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor, while also pulling down eight rebounds.
In the back court, Chisholm will be joined by the likes of Seongwoo Park, Aram Currie, and Yanniv Perez, all of whom are back from last year’s team.
Perez is the top returning scorer back for the Mounties in 2018-19. The product of Montreal, QC averaged 11.0 points per game last season. Perez shot 49.0% from the floor and 46.5% from three-point range. He has the ability to score from all areas of the floor, and his three-point jumper helps to spread out the offense and keeps opponents honest in their defensive coverage.
Currie (8.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and Park (5.0 ppg, 2.4 apg) will look to build off their 2017-18 performances and take on expanded roles with the team as the season progresses. The veteran back court rotation will be the back bone of the team as they look to contend for a national championship.
On the wing, the Mounties also welcome back Jeshua Becker, a fourth-year guard/forward from Mates Corner, New Brunswick. Becker averaged 6.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last season, down slightly from his 8.7 points per game average that he posted as a freshman during the 2015-16 season.
In 2018-19, the Mounties will bring a veteran group to the court each time out. Their online roster lists just five newcomers, giving the team a familiar look from the season before. That should work in favour of Mount Allison, as the majority of players were around for last year’s early exit from the playoffs. They will look to use that as motivation for the season and the post-season when it rolls along.
As is the case more often that not, the bulk of the attention in the ACAA will focus on Holland College. However, there is a ton of talent across the league that will make the Hurricanes’ title defense rather tough.
Mount Allison last made the CCAA National Championships in 2016-17, finishing eighth. After a brief one-year hiatus, the Mounties will look to get back into the eight-team national tournament. They would love to do it with the ACAA Championship in tow, one thing that they have yet to win.
– T. Bennett