Western woes for George Brown in men’s basketball East / West Holiday Series

George Brown goes winless in holiday exhibition matchups vs. West division teams

The expression “Go west, young man, go west” may not be one the George Brown Huskies men’s basketball team wants to put into practice.

George Brown College’s (GBC) 9-1 regular season was one of six OCAA schools competing in the 2017 East / West Holiday Series hosted by Humber College on Dec. 29 to 30. The event featured three clubs each from both the East and West divisions. Each team faced three opponents from the opposite division over the two days. While the format did not include a playoff round, it is still considered a valuable tool for the programs involved as it is a rare opportunity to play teams from the other division as there are no interdivisional games in the regular season.

The Huskies opened the series Friday morning with a matchup against the host Humber Hawks (8-3 regular season). After holding a one-point lead at the half, Humber outscored George Brown 27-18 in the decisive third quarter on the way to a 90-84 win.

Next up were the Sheridan Bruins (8-1 regular season) that afternoon. Once again, the Huskies’ defence betrayed them as a four-point halftime lead evaporated and GBC dropped a 88-84 decision to fall to 0-2.

Saturday, the Huskies would face the Fanshawe Falcons (6-5 regular season) in search of a victory. However, the Huskies trailed the whole way after the opening quarter, on the way to a 65-57 defeat, exiting with an 0-3 record. The Huskies showed flashes of the 9-1 regular season record they came in with, but ultimately, defensive breakdowns were the team’s undoing.

“We played hard. We battled and competed for four quarters. We only had a couple of minutes of lapse but against these good teams like Sheridan and Humber, that’s all they need to take advantage,” said first-year Huskies forward Adam Costanzo.

The importance of these games against the West was not lost on the Huskies. The opening round of the OCAA Championship features a cross-over format between the two divisions.

“The overall depth of all the teams in their division are quite strong,” said GBC’s head coach Jonathan Smith. “You can down to St. Clair, Conestoga, and Mohawk, and some of those teams aren’t even in the playoffs, and good rosters. On any given night they can beat you. Our side of the east is getting better but it’s not at the level yet of the west where there is so much parity in their division.”

“They’re much bigger (in the West),” said Huskies guard Teshayn Gayle. “They crash the glass a lot. We usually face smaller guys in the East so it was nice to play some big guys.”

While not getting into the win column was disappointing, the Huskies are lookng at the bigger picture. A matchup on Jan. 23 against the OCCA’s only undefeated team and division rival, the Seneca Sting (10-0), looms large. The Sting finished the Holiday Series with a perfect 3-0 record.

“We play best when the games matter. These (exhibition games) are good tests to get some runs in, but when the games matter most, that’s when we like to show up,” said Costanzo. “We definitely got Seneca circled on our calendar, for sure.”

The Huskies open the second half of the season Jan. 12 at Fleming College.

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Western woes for George Brown in men’s basketball East / West Holiday Series