Cardiac kids: Huskies win 90-88 nail-biter over Panthers

George Brown now faces a packed schedule of three games in eight days


George Brown’s men’s basketball team treated the home crowd to a thrilling Saturday afternoon finish, as Kevon Mascoe’s three-pointer with 9.2 seconds left pulled the Huskies ahead 90-88 over the Canadore Panthers.

The hosts were overflowing with frenetic energy to begin the first quarter, relentlessly pressing Panthers shooters and keeping Canadore’s ball movement to the outside. George Brown jumped out to an 11-0 lead on the back of this defence, but it was a level of gusto near-impossible to maintain.

As the Huskies’ energy dipped, Canadore settled into a quiet rhythm. The visitors went about chipping away at George Brown’s advantage, and by halftime, a 25-18 first quarter lead had turned into a 45-45 draw.

The second half was characterized by a series of statement plays from both sides. George Brown swingman Matthew Bukovec responded immediately to Canadore power forward Rasheed Smith’s big dunk with a three-point shot, which was itself followed by a crowd-erupting putback dunk from Mascoe. By game’s end, Mascoe had posted 26 points, including six three-point daggers on 12 attempts, a performance which earned the Huskies shooting guard St. Louis Bar & Grill athlete of the week honours.

“We started playing with intensity, we started getting stops, running out, pushing the ball, transition; we started having fun,” said Bukovec, whose 14 point stat line fails to convey the communicative force he was, especially on defence. “Big players made big shots by the end of it, and we worked hard for the win in the fourth quarter.”

In addition to Bukovec and Mascoe, a number of Huskies had standout performances despite the team’s flirting with defeat. Five-year Huskies veteran Ted Johnson played a steady 30 minutes and went a perfect 7-7 on the free throw line, while first-year guard Shaquille Francis looks to be a strong building block for the future, displaying tantalizing flair and scoring ability in limited playing time.

Having played the previous night on the road against Georgian College, the schedule wasn’t kind to Canadore. Saturday’s 1:00 p.m. tip-off made for a short turnaround, one Panthers head coach Stacy Gallagher described as “very, very challenging.” To their credit, the visitors never fell into fatigue, and played George Brown tough right until the final buzzer.

While Canadore (4-6) played its final game of 2016, the Huskies (6-1) face a packed schedule of three games in eight days, beginning with a 4-4 Loyalist squad on Nov. 30. George Brown head coach Jonathan Smith acknowledged the upcoming stretch as a tough one, but his players have full confidence in the staff’s ability to prepare and manage the team.

“Coach is going to be watching our minutes, watching how hard we practice and things like that,” said Francis, in a sentiment echoed by Bukovec. “I think that coach is going to have it under control, he’s going to keep us rested and get us ready for the upcoming games.”

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Cardiac kids: Huskies win 90-88 nail-biter over Panthers