Abella’s late charge sparks OCAA West win

TORONTO – There was a role reversal of sorts at the 2012 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association Basketball All-Star Games played last Saturday (March 24) at Centennial College in Scarborough, Ont.

After East region teams swept the podium at the recent OCAA championship, it was the West that bested East, 73-69, in the women’s all-star game.

Team West never trailed in the contest, jumping out to a 16-11 lead after one quarter, then building a 32-20 advantage at halftime. After trailing 51-42 after three quarters, Team East had a spirited comeback in the fourth quarter, tying the score at 65-65 before Team West went on a 6-0 run to put the game away.

Algoma’s Corina Bruni (Sault Ste. Marie) was named player of the game, leading all players with 17 points. West teammate Nakia Arthur (Brampton) of Sheridan contributed 15 points in the win, including 11 in the second half, while Mohawk’s Rachelle Abella (Hamilton) added 14, including 10 in the final 20 minutes.

Tamara Nembhard (Toronto) of Seneca led all Team East players with 15 points, including 11 in the second half. Algonquin teammates Abeer Farhat and Sandre Bascoe, both from Ottawa, added 13 and 10 points, respectively, in a losing effort.

It was a similar theme in the men’s all-star game. Although the West region earned a medal sweep at the recent provincial championship, including the OCAA champion Mohawk Mountaineers who went on to win a national title, it was Team East that prevailed 114-110.

Unlike the women’s game, there were a number of lead changes in the contest, as both teams were tied 25-25 after one quarter, then 54-54 at halftime. Team East made its move in the third quarter, jumping ahead 88-78 before Team West rallied to tie the score at 108-108 in the late stages of regulation. But Team East ultimately pulled ahead for good.

Algonquin’s Romaine Lawrence (Toronto) scored a game-high 30 points to earn player of the game honours, contributing a consistent 15 points in each half. A trio of Team East teammates scored 10 points each, including Max Clarkson (Peterborough) of Fleming-Peterborough, Nana Ntim (Bradford) of George Brown, and Terence Thomas (Ottawa) of St. Lawrence-Kingston.

Denmark McDonald (Mississauga) of Sheridan led all Team West players with 26 points. Humber’s Mark Perrin (Toronto) added 18 points in a losing effort.

Not surprisingly, the three-point leaders during the regular season were the winners of the three-point shootout, held in conjunction with the all-star games. Kelly Killoran (Sarnia) of Fleming-Peterborough edged Alicia Del Fuoco (Whitby) of Durham in the women’s three-point competition, while St. Clair’s Amanda McCarthy (Windsor) placed third.

In the men’s three-point challenge, Sheridan’s Khalid Abdel-Gabar (Mississauga) beat out OCAA and national player of the year Jovain Wilson (Pickering) of Algoma. Lambton’s Matt Koopman (Embro) finished in third.

In the co-ed skills competition, Team West edged Team East 3-2.

The 25th annual OCAA Basketball All-Star Games brought together the elite collegiate basketball players from across the province for a day of camaraderie and competition. Seventy-five student-athletes represented 20 Ontario colleges and universities at this year’s event.