It was one of those games where it’s unfortunate there had to be a loser. In a hotly-contested, back and forth contest at the David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre Wednesday (Dec. 4), the Mohawk men’s basketball team downed the top ranked team in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association. The previously undefeated Sheridan Bruins fell 111-106 to the Mountaineers in an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association thriller.
The first half was simply end-to-end action and Sheridan went to the dressing room with a 55-52 lead. However, the Bruins struggled offensively to start the second half and the Mountaineers went on a 15-3 run. Sheridan finally got going and got the deficit down to five points (82-77) after three quarters. After Mohawk scored the first bucket of the second half, The Bruins went on a 17-3 run to take a seven point lead. But in a game which saw 16 lead changes, Mohawk came back again and was able to get a bit of a cushion in the final minute and saw out their five-point victory.
Sheridan’s record falls to 8-1 in the OCAA West Division, while Mohawk improves to 7-2 as the teams go into the holiday break.
Guard Matt Fennell had a monster game with 44 points, including six 3-pointers. Taylor Dowhaniuk scored 24 points including a handful of powerful and timely dunks. The centre also led his team with 12 rebounds. Forward Alex Reis scored 12 points and guard Patrick Iavarone added 11.
For Sheridan, Michael Selkridge scored 22 points, Cory Cooper had 20 points and Paul Williams notched 15, plus a game high 16 boards.
Mohawk head coach Brian Jonker said it was such a fast paced game he didn’t feel any lead was safe. The pace also enabled Fennell to have good looks and in Jonker’s mind Fennell is the best shooter in the league. Meantime, Jonker thought Dowhaniuk was fantastic. “I felt, offensively, it was his best game since he’s been here.”
Jonker conceded the team has some work to do defensively. The Mountaineers were ranked No. 9 in the country going into the contest. “This just validates that we can play with anybody,” said the coach, “because Sheridan is really good.”
Meanwhile, the Mohawk women finished their first semester on a winning note, 60-38 over Sheridan. The Mountaineers ended a three-game skid and stopped the Bruins two game win streak, leaving both teams with 5-4 records.
Mohawk appeared to be heading to the locker room on the short end of the score, but guard Rachelle Abella scored on a three point buzzer-beater and the Mountaineers led 26-24 after 20 minutes. The second half was dominated by Mohawk, which outscored the visitors 34-14.
Mohawk’s Stef Hrymak led all scorers with 19 points. Careena Browne had 13 points and Abella scored nine in just her second game back from a lengthy injury. Lacey Wolters contributed eight points and 13 rebounds.
Samantha Lovat scored 17 points and added 11 rebounds for Sheridan. Merika Azar had 11 points and 14 boards.
Mohawk head coach Kevin Duffy was very upset with his team in the first half and berated them loudly during a time out.
“It’s not normal that I get that agitated during the game,” said Duffy, but I felt our compete level was very poor at that point in the game. They (Sheridan) had fewer bodies than we had and we were subbing more than they were, yet they had 18 offensive rebounds in the first half. Most of that was because we were not moving our feet or challenging them for position on the court.
“We delivered that message, then continued the message in the change room. As I told the girls at the end of the game, they answered that challenge, which I was proud of.”