The Cape Breton Capers are taking their first stab in 15 years at a Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s basketball championship.

The Capers punched their ticket to this weekend’s Final 8 at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa by downing the St. Francis Xavier X-Men 94-77 in the Atlantic University Sport men’s basketball championship at Centre 200 in Sydney last Sunday.

“A lot of our players are more hungry,” said Phil Nkrumah, a fourth-year Capers forward. “We’re anxious.”

Added Capers head coach Jim Charters: “We’re going to go at it hard. This time of year, you just have to play when the ball goes up or you go home.”

For the second-seeded Capers, tip-off is Friday at 1:30 p.m. in their quarter-final match against the No. 7-seed Calgary Dinos. The match will be webcast live on Streaming Sports Network Canada.

The Dinos lost 96-83 to the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West final.

“They’re experienced and they’re really big,” Charters said.

“Calgary’s a pretty tough draw.”

Charters said some of his players suffered from cramping during the AUS final due to fatigue and the intensity level of the Atlantic championship.

“And Jimmy Dorsey played on a bad ankle last week,” Charters said of the AUS championship MVP, who scored 35 points in Sunday’s final.

“You wouldn’t know it. It didn’t seem to hold him back too much. This time of year, all kinds of guys are banged up, but you just tape up or do what you need to, to go out and do your best.”

And pushing them to do their best will be the fans — a busload of CBU students, university staff, family of Ontario players such as Nkrumah, and former Capers living in the Ottawa area will be cheering the team on.

“They really helped push us through,” Charters said of the fans’ role in the AUS win.

“And we should have a really good, strong orange contingent here Friday.”