Kokko takes charge as MBASK grind out win
Second year guard drops 28 points as Hawks rally to hold off Algoma 62-52 in defensive battle

Sunday, January 21, 2018 - Posted by Mac Turchan

WATERLOO, Ont. (January 21, 2018) – While it wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s basketball team persevered Saturday afternoon at the University of Waterloo Physical Activities Complex against the Algoma Thunderbirds, hanging their hat on their defence in the second game of a back-to-back and ultimately showing the mental toughness to be able to pull away in the fourth quarter and pick up a 62-52 victory.

The win marked their fifth straight and saw the Hawks (8-8) return to .500 for the first time since November. However, by no means was Saturday’s contest a straight-forward affair as some of their victories on this streak have been.

Held to 33 percent shooting on the afternoon, the purple and gold had their share of struggles scoring the ball. Causing many of Laurier’s problems on that end was a returning Reng Gum (Surrey B.C.) for Algoma. The fifth-year big man was effective down low for the Thunderbirds (4-12) after missing Friday’s matchup, clogging up any driving lanes for the Hawks and finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds on the game.

A huge spark for the Hawks was a brilliant performance from star guard Tevaun Kokko (Markham, Ont.). While both teams were generally starving for offence, Kokko seemingly had no difficulties getting buckets, pouring in a game-high 28 on an efficient 10-of-17 shooting from the floor and four of eight from downtown.

Hawks Head Coach Justin Serresse was impressed with Kokko’s ability to go out and carry the load for the team, and prove that he can be the go-to guy when the team is having issues getting points on the board.

As has been the theme during the current winning streak, the defence has continued to be a reliable component of the game for the purple and gold. For a second straight day the Hawks were able to hold the Thunderbirds under 35 percent shooting.

Most pleasing for Coach Serresse was the team’s ability to get stop after stop late as they pulled away from Algoma in the fourth quarter. 

Talking about his team's defensive effort post-game, Serresse said “If we are playing together and sticking to the game plan defensively, it shows that we can beat some teams even [scoring in] the 60’s, and as a young team it’s always good to know that.”

Having vaulted themselves back up the OUA West standings, the Hawks now firmly have their sights set on securing the number two seed in the division, currently being held down by the Western Mustangs. It looks as though it will be a four-team race to the finish line for that position between Western, Laurier, Windsor, and Waterloo as the four teams are seperated by just four points.

The action continues for the purple and gold on Wednesday afternoon as they take on the McMaster Marauders (3-13) in a school-day affair at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, with tip set for 1:00 p.m.

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