Seneca teams defeat Huskies squads in East division heavyweight battle
It lived up to the hype.
It’s hard to imagine any of the fans at a packed Newnham Centre coming away disappointed Tuesday night after watching the host Seneca Sting and George Brown Huskies go toe-to-toe in both men’s and women’s action. Simply put, these games had a playoff atmosphere all over it as the two schools added another thrilling chapter in this intense rivalry.
The stakes were high as George Brown and Seneca are locked in a tight battle for top spot in the east division on both the men’s and women’s side. Head coach Warren Williams’ Huskies have been tearing up the women’s competition, arriving at Seneca with a 10-0 record. After being even 39-all at halftime, the George Brown women’s team would be done in by their offence, which shot just over 29 per cent in the second half on the way to a 77-73 defeat.
Williams was impressed with the Sting and how they came at his club early.
“I think in a game where we punch, they punch, we punch, they punch, they had the last punch and they came out victorious,” he said. “All the credit should go to their effort. It’s something we can learn from and get better from.”
With Seneca’s victory, the race atop the division tightens up. Despite the loss, the Huskies like what they see in the big picture going forward.
“Offensively (and) defensively I think we’re going in the right place,” said fifth-year captain Aprille Deus, who posted a team-high 22 points vs the Sting. “We’re also not peaking too early which I think is key. If we peaked too early like we did last year, I think we’d be in some real big trouble for playoffs.”
As for the men, a heart-breaking 78-76 loss prevented the Huskies from overtaking Seneca atop the the east standings.
The Sting imposed their will early in the game, shooting an impressive 55 per cent from 3-point range in the first half. At one point, Seneca had 14-point, putting the men’s team in a big hole.
Down by seven at the half, George Brown rallied. After trading the lead in the fourth quarter, the Sting escaped with the victory when the Huskies DJ James’ tying shot did not go.
“That shot I had at the end, I hit that same shot two years ago to win the game,” said James, who led George Brown with 23 points. “It’s a tough loss but it’s a learning experience.”
James added that once the emotions from the loss settle, the team will review the game tape and move forward.
Like coach Williams, men’s head coach Jonathan Smith likened the game to a boxing match where the comeback was incomplete.
“We wanted to throw the first punch but unfortunately, Seneca did,” he said. “I think we came back in the middle rounds and had a chance to throw the knockout punch at the very end.”
As for James, Smith said, “he’s a tough competitor, he makes those one out of two shots so I’ll live and die with him, no problem.”
The men’s team will benefit down the stretch as they conclude the regular season with three straight games at home. With over 60 per cent of the season gone by, James noted the improvement in his team, notably, being less selfish with the ball than earlier in the season.
The men’s Huskies went without a win in the regular season versus Seneca. But James anticipates seeing the Sting again on the way to the national championships.
“We went to nationals last year, we saw what it takes to get there and we’re just trying to get back there,” he said. “But right now it’s going to run through Seneca and we expect to see them in the finals.”
The men’s provincial championship opens on March 1 at Niagara College. The women’s teams compete for the Ontario crown at Humber College beginning on March 2.