OCAA Championship Preview: Humber Hawks With Target on Their Back!
LONDON, ON–The top teams in the province will all be vying for an OCAA title beginning this Thursday in Ottawa at Algonquin College with the champion being crowned Saturday night. The quarterfinal match ups begin Thursday afternoon and if this year’s OCAA regular season is telling of anything it’s that each game will surely be decided in the final minutes.
With the provinces top teams in Ottawa there is going to be some great basketball played but no team as much as Humber will have the target on their back, Humber is currently ranked 5th in the nation and is the three time defending OCAA champions and if anyone is to win this weekend they will have to go through the Humber Hawks who look poised to defend their title. Humber will have to play through a tough draw of competition in order to regain its title, as many teams this year look ready to take the step into being crowned OCAA champions.
The OCAA championship begins at 1:00 when the #6 nationally ranked Sheridan Bruins (14-4) plays the surprise Georgian Grizzlies (12-8) who are making their first final 8 appearance in over 5 years. This game will be a massive test for Georgian who is playing a Sheridan team who is experienced and tournament tested. Sheridan will rely on its tremendous guard pressure that at times overwhelms opponents. Sheridan is led by Khalid Abdel-Gabar who is averaging a team best 20.4 points and will look to lead the Bruins over the Grizzlies. If Georgian is to have any chance it will have to rely heavily on second year forward Shane Rowe who is the country’s leading rebounder at almost 15 a game. If Georgian is to have any chance they will have to slow down the attack of Sheridan and limit their turnovers if they can take care of the ball they will have a chance, this will be a tough game for the Grizzlies but they may surprise some people with their play.
The 3:00 game has the #1 team from the east region and #12 national ranked Centennial Colts (18-2) playing the upstart Mohawk Mountaineers (13-5). This game will be a strong test for the Colts who will look to prove that they are a force in the OCAA, the Colts success will be squarely placed on the shoulders of first year forward Theon Reefer who though has played limited games this year is averaging almost 20 points per game and is a force inside for Centennial. Mohawk will rely heavily on its backcourt to lead them to victory guards Amino Bello and Manny Campbell are two of the most dynamic guards in the league who can score in a multitude of ways. If Mohawk is to make a strong push it will be in the hands of their backcourt, Centennial will look to impose their will on Mohawk and show the OCAA that they are a formidable opponent.
In the 6:00 game you have the three times defending OCAA champions Humber Hawks (15-3) matched up versus longtime rivals Fanshawe Falcons (12-6). During the regular season the Hawks and Falcons split the season series with each team winning on its respective home court. If the Falcons want to have a chance of knocking off the reigning champions they will have to rely on their trio of guards who carrying the majority of their scoring load, Phil Dixon, Boyd Vassell and Andy Campbell will have to produce in order for falcons to have a chance. Humber will rely on the experience of forward Akeem Sween, and its solid balanced attack to lead them to another championship, even though Humber boosts a strong record this year many of their games have been close and they will need to pick up their game in order to become champions once again.
The last game of the night has the host Algonquin Thunder (16-4) versus the Algoma Thunderbirds (13-5) the Thunder will try and use their home court advantage as they try and knock off the Thunderbirds. The Algoma Thunderbirds have been a strong team thought the entire OCAA year there success will rely on their two headed monster that consists of guard Jovain Wilson and forward Dele Oworu the Thunderbirds have a strong inside outside presence with Wilson and Oworu, if Algoma can withstand the crowd of Algonquin then they should fare well. If Algonquin wants to defeat Algoma they will have to rely on guard Romaine Lawrence who leads to Thunder in scoring, if Algonquin manages to withstand the early attack of Algoma then this may be a close game. The nightcap of the OCAA championship will be a closely contested game between Algoma and Algonquin both teams have a chip on their shoulder and are looking to make a big statement this year.
If anything is for sure it’s this year’s OCAA championships will be one for the memories every game looks to be that it will be very closely contested no one team has emerged as a powerhouse this year and this could see a new champion crowned. But in order to win this year some team will have to dethrone the reigning champions Humber and until then they are the favorites.
Thursday, March 1
Game 1 – Georgian vs. Sheridan – 1 p.m.
Game 2 – Mohawk vs. Centennial – 3 p.m.
Game 3 – Fanshawe vs. Humber – 6 p.m.
Game 4 – Algoma vs. Algonquin – 8 p.m.
Friday, March 2
Game 5 – Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 – 1 p.m.
Game 6 – Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 – 3 p.m.
Game 7 – Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 – 6 p.m.
Game 8 – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 8 p.m.
Saturday, March 3
Game 9 – Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 6 – 9 a.m.
Game 10 – Loser Game 8 vs. Winner Game 5 – 11 a.m.
Bronze Medal Match
Game 11 – Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10 – 4 p.m.
Gold Medal Match
Game 12 – Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 – 6 p.m.