Three basketball players from Northern Manitoba were among the athletes who competed at the 2012 Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NIAC)/Manitoba College Athletic Conference (MCAC) men's basketball tournament in Bemidji, Minn. from Jan. 6-8.
Jon-Ross Merasty-Moose from Thompson along with Lexy Blacksmith from Cross Lake and Brad Ettawacappo from Norway House represented Manitoba institutions in the tournament. Merasty-Moose plays for the Assiniboine Community College Cougars from Brandon while Blacksmith and Ettawacappo are teammates on the University of Winnipeg College Wesmen.
The College Wesmen got the better of the Cougars in their only meeting at the tournament, in one of the semifinal match-ups, edging ACC 69-66. The Cougars had one last chance to tie the contest with seven seconds left before the buzzer, Merasty-Moose says, but the final shot for ACC missed, giving the Wesmen a berth in the final, which was won 77-61 by the Trinity Bible College team from Ellendale, North Dakota. Ettawacappo had two points, two assists and five rebounds in 18 minutes for the College Wesmen in that game, while Blacksmith had six points and six rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time.
Merasty-Moose's best performance of the tournament, which the Cougars finished with a 1-2 record, came in an 80-66 loss to Canadian Mennonite University Blazers, when he had six points, two rebounds and two assists.
The Cougars and the College Wesmen compete against each other in the MCAC, which also includes the Blazers, the Red River College Rebels and the Providence University College Freemen. The College Wesmen lead the league with a record of 5-1, while ACC is fourth with a record of 3-3. The two teams met for the first time at ACC last Friday, with the Wesmen prevailing 96-76, and then had a rematch in Winnipeg the following day, with the Cougars finishing on top by a score of 72-70.