Mountaineers crowned national basketball champions

Mohawk College has won its first-ever Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship.

The Mountaineers, led by player of the game Aminu Bello’s 32 points, downed the Mount Royal University Cougars of Calgary, 88-73, in the Gold Medal Final in Truro, Nova Scotia on Saturday (March 17). Alex Reis scored 22 points and Tanner Lane added 12, on four 3-point shots.

Andrew Cicuttini, who was named Most Valuable Player of the Championship, had 15 rebounds for the Mountaineers.

Mohawk fell behind 12-4 but thanks to consecutive three pointers by Bello, Lane and Bello again, took the lead and were in front 21-18 after one quarter.

In the second quarter, Mohawk went on a 15-1 run and led by 17 (36-19). Mount Royal got back to within seven points (44-37) but Lane’s late three pointer gave the Mountaineers their 10 point margin at the half.

In the third quarter, the teams basically traded points and Mohawk led 64-55.

It was much the same story in the final quarter. Whatever Mount Royal did, Mohawk responded.

Mohawk had a field goal percentage of 40.26 for the game, while Mount Royal shot 34.15 percent.

Turnovers were very key in the championship match. The Mountaineers scored 14 points off turnovers, while the Cougars could manage only two.

Mohawk head coach Brian Jonker called the championship “absolutely unbelievable.” Jonker, so impressed by the team’s play the last eight weeks, which included winning the OCAA title, said “I didn’t even consider what I would say to the team if they lost, because losing wasn’t even an option.”

As far as Bello’s career-ending effort was concerned, the coach said “Our best player played his best game, in his final game. He pulled us out of the doldrums and led us to the national championship.”

Mohawk’s Manny Campbell was named to the championship’s First All-Star Team. Taylor Dowhaniuk was named to the Second Team.