For the first time in a long time, the Redeemer University College gymnasium was filled for an OCAA Men's Basketball game on a Friday night. There wasn't an empty seat in the bleachers as Royals fans emerged to take in some of the excitement surrounding the Men's Basketball team this season. The fans backed their team all night, and the Royals rewarded them for their support in a thrilling defeat of the OCAA powerhouse Sheridan Bruins, beating the Bruins 79-68.
And why wouldn't these fans be excited? A 6 game win streak for the Roayls, the team’s first ever provincial ranking (#9), back-to-back wins against the perennial contending Bruins, and a group of top OCAA basketball players, including John Woldue and Calvin Turnbull. The team also sits in 4th place in the tough OCAA West Division.
Josh de Schiffert led the Royals’ offense with a career high 27 points in the win. Redeemer's John Woldue also had an impressive game, adding 19 points and 8 assists despite getting into early foul trouble. Calvin Turnbull ruled the boards once again with a game high 12 rebounds.
While Redeemer's offense has gotten a boost from the team’s quick play and strong transition, it has been their defense that has really propelled the Royals in their run of wins. Redeemer has held their opposition to 69 points or less in 4 of their last 6 games and held the Bruins to their season low, 68 points.
Post game, Head Coach Jamie Girolametto was quick to point out that Friday night's game can't be the season's highlight. "It was a great team win for us", commented Girolametto. "Everyone was fully engaged, no matter what their role was or how many minutes they played. It was special and historic to complete the sweep of a great program like Sheridan. But our guys understand that Friday was just another step in the process. Our focus now is on Cambrian and just Cambrian."
Redeemer will look to continue their strong play this weekend against the 0-9 Cambrian Golden Shield in back-to-back matches on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The Royals will also be looking for another packed house. 2015 appears to be ushering in a new era of Redeemer Royals fans who appear ready to support this team as they go down a potential path to the playoffs, just as the fans have done for so long for playoff contending volleyball programs.
Coach Girolametto hopes the support doesn't just stop at Friday night and attributes their success to their work on and off the court. "I am really proud of the success the guys are having outside of basketball. We have been receiving some great feedback about our guys in the classroom. The team has been working very hard and is being rewarded both on and off the court. I believe that is sparking some interest in our team. We had a great turnout Friday night. Hopefully that support for the guys will continue to grow as they continue to work".