One game separates Mohawk from basketball gold

Mohawk’s Taylor Dowhaniuk(15) blocks a scoring attempt. (Photo: Kirk Saint)

The Mohawk Mountaineers are one win away from their first-ever men’s national basketball championship.

The No. 4 Mountaineers withstood a torrid rally by the No. 1 ranked University of Northern British Columbia to start the fourth quarter and prevailed, 78-71, on Friday (March 16) to earn a berth in Saturday’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association final at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, near Truro, Nova Scotia. Mohawk will play the No. 2 Mount Royal Cougars from Calgary.

On Friday, the Mountaineers, who are Ontario Colleges Athletic Association standard bearers, led 66-55 after three quarters, but the Timberwolves, from Prince George B.C., came out flying with a 12-0 run in the first three minutes of the final quarter. However, Mohawk regained its composure and limited UNBC to only four more points, while scoring 12 themselves. At the same time, UNBC lost its momentum and in shooting and rebounding after the comeback.

Andrew Cicuttini led all scorers with 21 points. Mountaineer teammate Manny Campbell got 13 and was named Mohawk’s player of the game. Taylor Dowhaniuk had 13 rebounds for the winners.

Mohawk’s Jeff Hunt (11) adds another two points for the Mountaineers. (Photo: Kirk Saint)

The Cougars advanced with a 90-86 victory over the Ahuntsic Indians of Montreal in the other semi-final game.

“Games are full of runs,” said Mohawk head coach Brian Jonker. “The key is to keep your composure and I felt we did that. We responded.”

After their surge, the T-wolves suddenly struggled badly. “That run took a lot out of them,” said Jonker. “They appeared emotionally and physically spent.”

Jonker noted sometimes the emotional part is more of a factor.

As for Saturday’s opponent, Jonker said the Cougars are to UNBC. They are slightly bigger than Mohawk and are more structured with more of a half-court oriented squad.