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SAULT STE MARIE, ON– NPH CCAA Analyst, Lawrence Dushenski breaks down the first day of the OCAA championships from Sault Ste Marie.
GAME 1: Algoma – Sheridan
In what will likely ended up being the most exciting of the OCAA Championships, Sheridan College beat host Algoma College 83-77. After Algoma jumped out to an early 11-2 lead in the early stages of the game, Sheridan stormed back to take a 45-43 lead into halftime.
The last minute of the game was hectic, with the shot clock going out at one end, countless timeouts being called and both coaches having choice words for the referees.
Sheridan ran a strong 2-1-2 full court press in an attempt to limit Algoma from scoring in transition and then they went into a 2-3 half court defence to give the defenders a chance to catch their breath.
The crowd provided a deafening atmosphere for the home team, as thousands of fans packed into the Essar Centre with thunder sticks to make the game feel like few other in Canadian college basketball.
Khalid Abdel-Gabar shot impressively from the field for Sheridan with 26 points, including five three pointers.
Algoma point-forward DJ Wright had a solid game, regisering a double-double; 13 points to go along with 11 rebounds. However the former JUCO player of the year struggled down the stretch, and was not able to lead the hometown team to victory.
The atmosphere was almost too much for Algoma to handle, as they let their emotions get the best of them at times in the game.
Algoma coach Thomas Cory was barking at the refs for much of the game, eventually resulting in a technical in the final seconds when he slammed his clipboard to the ground.
Sheridan head coach Jim Flack: “They were so friggin’ huge man.”
Algoma forward Tyler Hynd: “We had the whole sound behind us. The whole city. We thought we had them.”
Algoma coach Thomas Cory: “Going into the game, win or lose, we were saying that playing in an environment like this is outstanding.”
NPH PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Sheridan: Khalid Abdel-Gabar – 26 points, 5/9 3P
Algoma: Tyler Hynd – 19 points, 9/10 FG, 6 rebounds
GAME 2: Algonquin-Niagara
Top-ranked Algonquin College entered the game on top of the OCAA after finishing the regular season with a 19-1 record, and they were able to hold on for a 82-78 win. However, Niagara College provided a formidable test for the tournament favourites.
While there was not nearly the same level of intensity to the game, due in large part to the lack of fans in the Essar Centre, the teams battled hard throughout the game.
CJ Smith’s shooting kept Niagara in the game throughout, as the sharpshooting guard dropped 27 points, including an impressive six three pointers.
However, Niagara was unable to get any secondary scoring, as they had limited contribution from their bench. Aside from Smith and 11 points from Jeremy Settimi, no Niagara Knights player got into double digits.
Algonquin came out firing to start the second half, and they never looked back. They ran a zone on the defensive end, and motion on the offensive end, able to hold off a resilient Niagara team. Their balanced approach was effective, despite a late Knight rally.
Algonquin was led by Njuguna Waiganjo, who had 22 points, and Landry Ndayiwyeko with 17 points. The top-ranked Thunder will now face Sheridan in tomorrow’s semi-final action.
Algonquin guard Abdul Kosar: “I would be lying if I said there wasn’t any pressure on us.”
Niagara guard CJ Smith: “The first five minutes of the second half cost us.”
NPH PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Algonquin: Landry Ndayiwyeko – 17 points, 5 rebounds
Niagara: CJ Smith – 27 points, 6 three pointers
GAME 3: Humber – Seneca
The Humber Hawks came in as the top-ranked team in the OCAA West, and the Seneca Sting provided little in the way of a threat to their title hopes as they won convincingly 65-51 over the undermanned Seneca team.
Humber was able to go deep into their bench and give many of their players a taste of OCAA tournament basketball. They got out to a 38-25 halftime lead, and despite getting pressured by an unusual 3-2 zone in the second half when they saw their lead cut to four, they were able to pull away late in the game.
The Hawks were led by star guard, NPH #5-CCAA ranked, Micheal Acheampong, who dropped in 24 points on an efficient night from the field.
Acheampong will be transitioning into the CIS next season as a University of Victoria Vike with two years of eligibility left.
Humber shot better than 50% from the field for the game, and despite only outscoring Seneca by one point in the second half, were able to comfortably advance to the next round.
Seneca started the game well, but they simply were not able to put up with the Hawks athleticism. They were led on the offensive end of the floor by Felix Adjei who had 14 points, and Norman Hamilton who contributed 12 points and seven boards.
Humber now moves on to face Fanshawe in semi-final action tomorrow. The winner of that game will move onto the OCAA championship game on Saturday.
Humber guard Mark Perrin: “I can really tell they did their homework.”
Seneca coach Wayne Dawkins: “I am not a big fan of playing zones, but you have to come with the pressure.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Humber: Micheal Acheampong – 24 points, 9/14 from the field
Seneca: Norman Hamilton – 12 points, 7 rebounds
GAME 4: Durham – Fanshawe
Durham College, led by OCAA Player of the year Eric Smith, were met by a hard-nosed Fanshawe Falcons unit in the final game of Day one action.
The final score was 79-67 for Fanshawe, as they bettered Durham by six points in each half.
Fanshawe got out to a 37-31 lead at halftime, thanks in large part to 13 early points from Jordan Dixon but he was matched by Eric smith, who had a clean 5 for 5 from the field. Smith finished the game with a game-high 22 points for Durham, while Dixon had team-high 21 for the Falcons.
The second half was more of the same, as Fanshawe continued to wear Durham down, and despite the Lords bringing the game within four points early in the second half, they were not able to keep the pressure up.
Few players were able to match the intensity of Falcons guard Mike Dubreuil, who rattled off eight straight points midway through the second half. He was at the head of the 2-1-2 zone, and despite letting his intensity turn into a few sloppy fouls, Dubreuil was a pivotal player in the game.
Fanshawe will now face Humber tomorrow at 8 PM, with Algonquin and Sheridan tipping off at 6 PM from the Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Falcons guard Mike Dubreuil on his plans for the game tomorrow: “Another win, another win baby. Get to the finals!”
Durham coach Rowley: “Maybe some fatigue set in and we weren’t able to defend their perimeter guys.”
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Fanshawe: Jordan Dixon – 21 points, 9/18 from the field
Durham: Eric Smith – 22 points, 9/12 from the field
Be sure to check back on for full NPH coverage of the OCAA Championships from the Essar Centre in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario!