Ontario Tech hoops history! Ridgebacks win first game

Ontario Tech Ridgebacks guard Graddy Kanku (on right) screams in excitement after the team won its first game of the season and of the basketball program. His teammates shake hands in the background. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

Co-written by Shaun McLeod

The crowd erupted as the final buzzer sounded. The Ontario Tech Ridgebacks had just made school basketball history – recording their first win.

The team won a close game that came down to the buzzer with a 67-64 win over the Algoma Thunderbirds Monday afternoon in front of the home crowd.

It is the first win for the program after going 0-11 in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) regular season play, 0-16 overall.

“It means the world to us and it’s the first win in program history,” said an emotional AJ Cummings, who led the way to the victory with 24 points, five rebounds, and one assist.

“We’ve been fighting for that win and working hard every day and it just feels great right now,” said Cummings.

Ridgebacks’ guard Graddy Kanku finished with 21 points and four steals.

Ontario Tech Ridgebacks guard Graddy Kanku throws down a big slam dunk during a game against the Algoma Thunderbirds at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre Monday. Ontario Tech won 67-64, the first win in the program's history. Photo credit: Ryan Hahn

Head coach Greg Francis said his players made it tough on him at times during the last minute, but he said overall they played really well down the stretch and secured the victory.

“To win a game like that? There’s nothing better,” said Francis after getting doused with water in the locker room after the game.

Francis watched on with a smile as his players celebrated the historic win in the locker room, adding he was pleased for them because he knows how hard they have been working.

“We needed something like this to keep our work ethic where it needs to be,” said Francis.

Coming off the win, the Ridgebacks will face a couple of major tests this weekend. Ontario Tech travels to Ottawa to play Canada’s top-ranked team, the 13-0 Carleton Ravens Friday. The Ridgebacks then play the fourth-ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees Saturday. Ottawa is 10-3.

“I expect that they’re going to play really well this weekend,” said Francis.

Earlier this season at home, Ontario Tech fell 99-69 to Carleton and 91-60 to Ottawa.

Meantime, Ontario Tech’s women’s team almost won its first game of the season, falling 75-70 to Algoma in overtime. The teams were tied 61-61 in regulation time. The women are now 0-12 in OUA play. Dalyssa Fleurgin led Ontario Tech with 24 points.