CMU Blazers Win Men’s & Women’s CPAC Basketball
Paul Muns, Kaleigh Trask named Tournament
By Paul Crosby
CMU’s men’s and women’s basketball teams put an exclamation mark on their
respective seasons this past weekend as both won their second Central Plains
Athletic Conference (CPAC) championships in a row.
|Men's CPAC champions
On Saturday, March 15, the men’s final featured a fast-paced
shootout between two talented teams, with CMU prevailing in a nail-biter, 71–69
over the Red River College Rebels. CMU was led by league and tournament MVP Paul
Muns, who knocked down 24 points in a clutch performance—showing why he has
gained the respect of opposition coaches this year.
With his team down by a pair and two minutes remaining, Muns nailed a huge
three-pointer—his fifth of the game—to restore a lead they would not relinquish.
Later, when asked if it was nerve-wracking to put up that kind of shot in that
situation, Muns replied: “Our coach has a lot of faith in us . . . he has always
stressed that we’ve got to shoot the ball if we feel confident because the
second you think about it, it’s not going to go in.”
The ball did go in a lot for Muns and his teammates, especially from
three-point distance. The game turned into an amazing display of shooting skill
from both teams, with Rebels shooters matching the Blazers’ three-point shots
with just as many of their own.
In fact, there were a total of 22 three-point field goals overall between the
two teams, which generated tremendous excitement among the spectators, as many
of these long bombs hit nothing but net. Nick Miller, chosen as player of the
game for CMU, had four field goals, all three-pointers.
Both teams had similar attack strategies, with assertive inside drives to the
hoop, big powerful posts who were steady with defensive rebounds and, of course,
skilled shooters, especially from the outside. If there was a difference, it
probably came down to fouls, where CMU appeared more disciplined than their
overly aggressive counterparts. That put CMU at the line far more often, and
they capitalized on most of those opportunities, including a couple of technical
fouls where they went two-for-two.
In the end, however, it was Muns who seemed to take over the game when his
team needed him to, scoring 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.
“It means a lot to be playing for CMU,” said Muns after the game. “This is a
developing program and we’re helping to get knowledge of CMU out there . . . We’re just a small school but we’ve got some serious talent here. It’s good that
people are taking notice now that we’ve won two years in a row.”
After the game, Red River Head Coach, Ogo Okwumabua had a tongue-in-cheek
reaction to Muns’ performance. “I’m going to have nightmares for weeks, maybe
years!” he said with a laugh.
|Women's CPAC champions
Earlier in the weekend, the CMU women also repeated as
champions, winning two straight games in a best-of-three final over Red River
College. Although they were favoured to win, they ran up against a proud Rebels
team that clawed their way back from large deficits in both games to make them
close at the end.
In game one on Thursday night, March 13, the Blazers were up by just one
point when Rebel point guard and league MVP Julie Sundara was fouled with less
than a second to play. Astoundingly, Sundara missed both free throws and the
Blazers won 53–52.
The Blazers were more assertive in game two the next evening, pulling away in
the second half to win 68–57, largely on the shooting of Erin Wall. Wall, who
plays wing, hit four three-point field goals—three in a row in the second half.
After the game, Wall expressed surprised by being named player of the game.
“Three points is my game,” she said. “I spend lots of hours in the gym
practicing that shot.” Kaleigh Trask of CMU was also honoured with the
tournament Most Valuable Player award.
The real story of the women’s final was team captain Janelle Hume. Less than
a week ago, at the Annual ACCA (Association of Christian College Athletics)
tournament in Oklahoma, she was rushed to the hospital following a head-on
collision with an opponent that resulted five stitches over her left eye. Prior
to Friday’s final, her doctor advised her not to play.
But this was one game Hume wasn’t about to miss. Despite the injury, she
scored 11 points, at the same time running up and down the floor in a frenzy,
making unbelievable passes with pinpoint accuracy and fighting for every loose
ball with little regard for her injury. No one would argue that the effervescent
Hume was the emotional leader throughout the game.
“I was born with a passion to play basketball,” she said with a huge smile
after the game.
When asked about her teammates, Hume spoke in glowing terms about the
closeness they shared this year.
“We’ve had a steady season,” she said. “We gelled very well from the
beginning. Time off the court has been an important part of our success on the
court . . . I can read them because of how well I know them off the court. I
know when they’re going to move and cut.”
If a team is a reflection of its coach, it is easy to find the source of
their collective enthusiasm. Head Coach Keith Michaelson brimmed with pride as
he talked about not just his team’s athletic achievements, but more importantly,
what kind of people they are.
At the ACCA tournament, he admits he was most proud of the fact that six of
his players received academic awards—the most any other team had was two. As
well, competing well against teams that practiced up to five times more often
than his was, for him, a source of tremendous satisfaction.
“Ball should be fun, but not at the expense of Christian values or
educational motivation,” he says. “Our priority is to bring quality students to
Michaelson takes recruiting seriously. He seeks talented athletes, but isn’t
interested in selfish or egotistical players. “When you recruit,” he continues,
“you change people’s lives forever.”
Sandwiched between the two finals on Friday evening was a splendid banquet
put on by Red River College. About 80 athletes from six different teams enjoyed
a full course roast beef dinner, after which CPAC Commissioner, Larry Shannon,
and Red River College Athletic Director, Ryan Ratushniak, passed out medals to
this year’s Conference All-Star teams.
For the CMU men, Alex Leaver was voted to the Conference All-Star team, while
Paul Muns was named the league’s MVP for 2007/08. Three women were voted to
their Conference All-Star team, including Janelle Hume, Rachel Parsons, and
Christie Anne McCullough.
A highlight of the evening occurred when Curt Warkentin, former CMU
basketball coach and athletic Director, was honoured for his years of work into
growing CPAC and making it a competitive league.
During his four years as Commissioner, Warkentin, who now works as an
Assistant Athletic Director at the University of Manitoba, was the driving force
behind increasing the number of member schools in the league, making CPAC what
it is today.
Posted March 17, 2008.
For more information contact the CMU Communications Director, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 2N2, telephone: 204-487-3300 ext. 630, fax: 204-889-1694,(www.cmu.ca)