A golden opportunity: Huskies advance to OCAA finals

Win against Niagara also sends George Brown to CCAA Championship

For the first time in a generation, George Brown men’s basketball will play for gold at the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Championship.

The last time George Brown advanced to the OCAA finals was in 1989-90. The Huskies won silver, falling 89-88 to the Sheridan Bruins, making tonight a rematch 27 years in the making.

“It feels really good,” Huskies guard Ted Johnson said with a smile. “This is my first time. I’ve been here five years, we always get eliminated first round and to go this far, it’s just great. Going out with a bang.”

George Brown earned their finals appearance by virtue of a convincing 85-74 semi-final victory yesterday over the Niagara College Knights. In stark contrast to Thursday’s uncomfortable win against Fanshawe, the Huskies always seemed to be in the driver’s seat against Niagara, even when the score suggested a tighter affair.

Playing without guard Van Hutchinson Jr., the depleted Knights squad leaned heavily on point guard Lequan Hylton. Following his inspired 19-point first half, George Brown looked to put the Niagara catalyst under lock and key. As a result, Hylton had just four points over the last two quarters.

Friday marked the second game in a row where an opponent focused their attention on Huskies guard and OCAA all-time leading scorer, Ajahmo Clarke. And yet again, George Brown’s multi-pronged attack rose to the occasion.

“All we’ve been doing is talking about our depth all year long, and we’re really showing it now at provincials, especially in the first game when guys were fouling out and others had to step up, and now we had this game when they were all focused on Ajahmo and others were stepping up and getting the job done,” said Huskies guard Jordan James.

Among those who stepped up against Niagara, Ted Johnson and Dejazmatch (DJ) James stood out. Johnson posted 13 points, including a crucial nine points in the first half, while DJ James took over down the stretch with 13 of his 19 points after halftime.

The Huskies have had a healthy contingent of fan support throughout the tournament. That presence has only added to an incredible experience, especially for stalwarts of George Brown’s program.

“It still hasn’t clicked in yet to me,” said DJ James. “It’s a surreal moment. I’ve been here for about four years now. I’ve played with some great players, had some great teammates and it was good to see them, all my former teammates come out today”.

Tonight’s match is a battle of division winners, with George Brown taking on the West’s best in Sheridan. The Bruins are coming in as the nation’s top-ranked team, having gone undefeated during the regular season. What Sheridan and head coach Jim Flack bring to the table are known quantities for Huskies head coach Jonathan Smith.

“We know what they’re going to do,” said Smith. “They’re going to play their 1-2-2 extended zone, they’re going to play that 2-2-1 three quarter court that they always do; Jim Flack special.”

By virtue of their gold medal game appearance, George Brown has already booked its ticket to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship. Win or lose, both the Huskies and Bruins are going to Holland College, PEI from March 15-18. It will be their first appearance at nationals in 41 years.

With that said, there’s still a job to do tonight.

“We’re not coming here for a silver,” said Smith. “It’s nice we’ve got nationals. We’re coming for gold”.

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A golden opportunity: Huskies advance to OCAA finals