Mohawk College is host to the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association men’s basketball championship Feb. 28 to March 1 and the Mountaineers’ goal is to compete for the title. The journey starts this weekend in Sault Ste. Marie when the Mountaineers meet Sault College on Friday night (Oct. 19), then play at Algoma University the next afternoon.
If timing is the name of the game, Mohawk could be in good shape. “This is by far, the deepest and most talented team we have fielded in my three years,” says head coach Brian Jonker. For starters, three key contributors to last year’s team are back -centre Ray Downey (Waterdown) and two outstanding guards, Matt Bruyn (Brantford Assumption) and Marko Gacic (Hamilton Sir John A. MacDonald).
Other returning veterans are forwards Phil Bucknor (Hamilton Hill Park) and Matt Powless (Brantford Pauline Johnson). Also, coming back after a year’s absence is centre Alen Beader (Hamilton Glendale), arguably the top rebounder in the OCAA two years ago.
Jonker has managed to land two significant players from other colleges. Tyrone Berry was an NCAA Division One prospect in his final year of high school (London Beal), before hurting his knee. He played one year at Fanshawe before sitting out last season. Guard Mackenzie Milmine, was a second team all-star for Humber last year and is eligible to play right away for Mohawk. Milmine played for Jonker at Brantford Assumption.
The Mountaineers will also have two significant freshmen. “Ricky Heath (guard, Glendale) is as good a shooter as there will be in the league, says Jonker. “Jerome Smith (Hamilton St. Thomas More) will give us added depth at both guard spots.”