Jordan Reaves’ career with the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team has not gone the way he hoped.
In his five years in Brandon, the 6-foot-4 forward who put his heart and soul into the team never made the Canada West post-season with the club, and on Saturday the team lost the final game he will ever play in front of the Brandon fans.
The Bobcats struggled for most of Saturday’s contest at the Healthy Living Centre as they fell 94-78 to the Lethbridge Pronghorns and it left Reaves, who received a standing ovation when he was honoured as a graduating player before the game, fighting back tears after the final buzzer.
"This is really tough," he said. "It’s just tough to think of next season without these guys. They’re my family and my best friends. It will be tough leaving them behind. I hope to go pro next year and on to bigger and better things, but this is bittersweet for sure."
Reaves was one of four graduating players honoured before the game, along with Isaiah James, James Elias and Emerick Ravier. All four of them started for the Bobcats, but the team struggled with its three-point shooting in the first half and with its pick and roll defence in the second quarter, which resulted in a 12-point halftime lead for the Pronghorns (14-6) that the Bobcats (5-15) couldn’t overcome.
Ravier and Kenonte Ramsey led Brandon with 16 points each, while Reaves and Ilarion Bonhomme both added 13. James finished with nine points while Elias grabbed three rebounds.
Logan Reiter had 22 for the Pronghorns.
Much like his final game at the Healthy Living Centre, Ravier admits his three years in Brandon were a roller-coaster ride and didn’t quite go the way he thought.
"The first time I came here it was an unknown," said the Ottawa native, who missed a season and a half with a knee injury. "I didn’t know about Brandon, I didn’t know about Manitoba. I never visited anywhere except Ontario.
"We got off to a start with the basketball team and then there was the school strike and coach wasn’t around, and then I got hurt and had to sit out last year. It’s all been about patience. I had to be patient for everything and this year was the time to go."
Although the fifth-year players are disappointed they couldn’t win the final home game of their careers, they get a chance to redeem themselves next weekend when they play their final Canada West basketball games in Regina against the Cougars (4-16).
Reaves believes those two games are must-wins.
"We disappointed our home fans these last two games," he said. "I don’t want to disappoint my team in these last two. I’m never going to play with these guys again, never. This is my last chance to get to show them how much they mean to me and how good we actually are when we play together.
"We know what’s on the line. We’re not making playoffs or anything, but everybody realizes we’re not going to be together next year, so it’s very important that we get these last two wins."