By Preeteesh Peetabh Singh
The spectators witnessed a splendid display of basketball by the Huskies at the 35th annual basketball tournament held at George Brown College (GBC) on Jan. 4-5. They continued their OCAA-winning momentum in the knockout rounds but failed to win the tournament, losing to Mohawk College in the finals.
The tournament started off with an action-packed first day with eight teams competing with each other. The participants included non OCAA teams like Regional Elite Development Authority (R.E.D.A.) and Dawnson College from Montreal. Other participants were Fanshawe, Georgian, Mohawk, St. Lawrence K., Durham and the hosts George Brown.
On-court intensity and some off-court aggression were on display, as the second game saw a heated conversation between St Lawrence coach Barry Smith and the referees in the match against Mohawk. Unhappy with the decision, Smith shrieked, “You guys don’t know the rules!”
GBC began its tournament with a thriller against R.E.D.A who eventually went on to win the consolation. The Huskies led in the first three quarters with scores of 37-31 at half time and 60-47 in the third quarter. R.E.D.A made an excellent comeback in the last quarter and tied the scores at 73 each at the end of time.
Just when it seemed R.E.D.A would clinch the game in OT, Ted Johnson shot a 3 point buzzer beater out of nowhere and won the game for GBC with a final score of 89-88. Huge cheers from GBC supporters livened up the venue. Sal Abdoulkader had a game high of 32 points for GBC and Abendego Lufile top scored from R.E.D.A. with 31 points.
Sal Abdoulkader, GBC was all praise for non OCAA team R.E.D.A who gave the Huskies a tough scare in the first game. “Those young guys can play basketball. They beat every other college in the tournament by a margin of almost 20 points.
GBC knocked out Dawnson in the semi-finals, yet another close finish. The Huskies started slowly in the first quarter but picked up their game in the last three with scores of 21-10, 32-26, 46-45 and final 67-65. Akai Netty top scored for GBC with 16 points whereas Frankie Gyamfi and Abdoulkader got 13 points each. Jaleel Wbb top scored for Dawnson with 25 points.
The final match of the tournament was played between GBC and Mohawk on Jan 5. With half time score of 30-36 both teams were going strong. But Mohawk put a lot of pressure on GBC in the second half. The Huskies had some trouble rebounding and could not put a check on the number of fouls. With a final score of 80-68 Mohawk were declared the champions of this year’s tournament.
“It was a tough final game. We made a breakthrough at half time but had a lot of foul trouble. Nobody wants to lose in the finals. It hurts. We need to work harder as a team, need to know when to take charge and turn defense into offence. We need to rotate quickly enough and communicate well. If we do all these correctly, we will beat teams for sure”, said Abdoulkader who was awarded the MVP in the finals.
Abdoulkader top scored for GBC with 24 points followed by Dwayne Harrison and Ted Johnson with 9 each. Manny Campbell and Alex Reis top scored for Mohawk with 15 points each. Campbell received the MVP of the tournament for his excellent performance throughout the tournament.