Men’s basketball team off to national championship after Sheridan wins OCAA gold in 76-74 heartbreaker
Men’s basketball head coach Jonathan Smith used those words to describe his team’s season, and he’s right.
While the Huskies dropped a 76-74 heartbreaker to Sheridan in the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) finals, the result still marked George Brown’s finest performance in a generation.
It’s been 27 years since the Huskies took home an OCAA medal of any kind, and the best may be yet to come. By competing in the gold medal game against Sheridan, George Brown booked their ticket to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship. The Huskies will play on the national stage for the first time in 41 years at Holland College, P.E.I. from March 15 to 18.
“We’re right on track and right on time with what (coach Jonathan Smith) had as his long-term plan for this program, and it’s exciting to be around,” said manager of athletics and recreation Melanie Gerin-Lajoie. “They’re playing great basketball; their team dynamic is outstanding.”
George Brown has put the country on notice. The Huskies pushed Canada’s top-ranked collegiate team to the brink, with a last-second basket being the difference between gold and silver.
— The Dialog (@DialogGBC) March 4, 2017
“No one thought we were going to be even close to this game, they were laughing in the beginning,” said swingman Matthew Bukovec, who has been to nationals twice before with Humber. “We battled hard, the game was close and it could have went either way.”
For his efforts this season, Smith was named the OCAA’s East Division coach of the year and OCAA nominee for CCAA coach of the year. In his fifth year at the Huskies’ helm, Smith said it’s not the coaching staff that makes the program, it’s the players.
“As I’ve told them, I would not be in any other change room in the country,” said Smith. “They’ve given me all they got, blood, sweat and tears all year long.”
Throughout the regular season, George Brown’s attack was highlighted by Ajahmo Clarke, as the guard marched on to become the province’s all-time leading scorer. At provincials, with opponents focused on shutting Clarke down, the Huskies’ depth took centre stage.
Each match saw players other than Clarke answer the bell, whether it was Kevon Mascoe, Dejazmatch James, Jordan James, Ted Johnson, the list goes on.
Mascoe in particular rose to the occasion, cementing a quarter-final win against Fanshawe and posting an incredible 32 points versus Sheridan in the finals. The Huskies guard was rewarded for his efforts with a tournament all-star nod, after what was a coming out party on the provincial stage.
“This was one of our goals, to win the provincial championship, but we came up short,” said Mascoe. “I’m happy with our team’s effort and we’ll get (Sheridan) back at nationals.”
As for Clarke, the guard is already capping off his brilliant collegiate career on a high. Playing his fifth and final year of eligibility, George Brown has helped him to his best provincial finish, in a season which earned CCAA All-Canadian and OCAA first team all-star honours.
The CCAA Championship represents one last hurrah for the province’s all-time leading scorer.
“I’m going to go hard at nationals,” said Clarke. “Play like there’s no tomorrow, just go hard, leave it all out on the floor.”
— The Dialog (@DialogGBC) March 5, 2017