The defending national title holders, the Mohawk Mountaineers, played like champions for the majority of the game, but almost blew a 33-point lead en route to winning, 87-78, over the host Seneca Sting Friday (March 1). They will meet the Sheridan Bruins for the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association men’s basketball championship on Saturday evening.
The Mountaineers wreaked havoc on the Sting defensively while hitting over 40% of their shots as they dominated play from the beginning. Mohawk held leads of 10 after one quarter, 20 after two and 33 at the midway point of the third quarter.
Mohawk swarmed the Sting early on, jumping to an 8-0 lead. Seneca looked confused at both ends of the floor and overmatched in intensity in a nearly packed gym. Despite getting on the board, Seneca still trailed 17-4 which led to the Sting’s first timeout of the game. With the Mountaineers leading 22-9, Charles Nwokolo completed a three-point play right before the end of the quarter.
Mohawk extended its lead midway through the quarter to 36-18 with a near perfect display of speed and transition. One of the few bright spots for Seneca in the first half was Nwokolo who opened the quarter with five straight points. The Mountaineers led at the half 45-25.
In the third quarter, the beat down was on as Mohawk’s lead grew to 33. OCAA West Player of the Year, Manny Campbell, was nearly unstoppable in the offensive end as the Mountaineers piled it on. That was until Seneca finally awoke. Finding their range, Seneca began to make shots from beyond the arc, closing the gap to 67-48 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, fans were treated to one of the most entertaining games of the year. A Seneca run brought them to within 13 at 78-65 with 3:02 to play when their fate was sealed. OCAA Player of the Year Felix Adjei went up for a tip in, rimmed out and came down awkwardly and in pain.
Mohawk went down the floor and scored before play was whistled down and Adjei was helped off the hardwood. Jamal Boyce did his best to rally his team. A three-pointer by Boyce cut the lead to 80-72 with 1:44 to play, but Seneca would not get any closer. Kevin Cornwall entertained the fans with two thunderous dunks which nearly shook the building, but ultimately, it was the composure of the defending champions that won out in the end.
Campbell finished with 25 points and eight rebounds for Mohawk. Alex Reis scored 20 in being named Player of the Game while Andrew Cicuttini had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Seneca’s Player of the Game was Calmar Morgan who scored 23 points. Adjei scored 14 points and had five rebounds. Nwokolo had 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Mountaineers advance to play Sheridan on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the championship game. The Bruins advanced with a 77-61 semi final win over Fanshawe of London.