Calgary’s SAIT Trojans took home the national college basketball championship after a decisive win Sunday night.
The team went perfect through the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship tournament, held at SAIT’s Jack Simpson Gymnasium over the weekend. They capped the weekend off with a 96-81 win over the Dawson Blues.
Tournament MVP and senior guard Charlie Conner told SAIT Trojans TV that he didn’t have words for the championship win.
“I’m just happy we finally got one,” Conner said.
“We’ve been waiting on this for years now, and we finally got one. I’m ecstatic.”
Conner poured in 23 points and added five assists and led the team with three steals in the win.
He commented on the long road to this championship. The team started 2-5 this season before things turned around. To this point, Conner said the team had made it through provincials (winners of the last seven Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championships) but never medalled at the national championships.
“We’ve always been good in provincials, right, but provincials is one thing — when you get to nationals you’re talking about the best of the best teams,” he said.
Defense was the key: Masters
ACAC Player of the Year Marcus Masters led the team in scoring in the final, going 7-12 from three-point range, netting 28 points in the match. Master said things turned around once the second semester hit.
“We got a few new pieces coming in second semester and then we just started rolling,” he said.
“Our defense got better; our practices got more intense.”
He said they had to gear up for provincials first and then focus on national championships. The key was defense, Masters said.
SAIT Director of Athletics and Recreation, Wade Kolmel, told SAIT Trojans TV that he was really proud of the team.
“They’re very special and it’s our sixth trip to this championship and every year you just try to be better,” he said.
“You can tell that our coaching staff and our leadership group really, really put that energy into trying to be better and trying to perform at their best this tournament. And look at the results.”
The win also marks the end of SAIT coach Marty Birky’s tenure. An interview in February said that Birky would be leaving to focus on his family.
“That’s it for me. Basketball has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” he said in the interview.
“Trying to find out who I am without basketball is going to be interesting, but I’ll still be a fan and I’ll still keep an eye on what the Trojans are doing.”