NPH Top Performers:
AJ Simmonds 20 points
Daniel Sule 13 points
Shaq Johnson 12 points
Akeem Berry 26 points
Ashton Slawter 14 points
JJ Wilson 11 points
HALIFAX, NS–The Metro Division One boys Championship featured two teams that know each other well and played twice during the regular season with plenty at stake, but nothing bigger than this right now. Both teams won their semi-final games (Dartmouth defeated Cole Harbour) and (Auburn defeated Citadel) to earn a right for the Metro Championship.
The Auburn Eagles emerged victorious defeating the Dartmouth Spartans 83-79 in a game that went down to the wire, earning revenge from the previous times when Dartmouth defeated them. Auburn had the lead for the entire game and would not relinquish the lead holding on for victory.
Both teams packed the stands with fans as this game had more meaning than just a championship, this game had bragging rights for the entire city for the next couple of weeks.
Dartmouth started the game in an offensive struggle and Auburn took full advantage of that attacking on every possession. Auburn had quickly jumped out to a 14-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Spartans couldn’t buy a basket and were struggling with the high intensity being dealt by the Eagles.
The Spartans started to fight back as Akeem Berry checked into the game and finally gave some life back into the Dartmouth offense. Within checking into the game he had scored a quick nine points brining the Spartans to within striking distance. They were unable to totally rely on Berry as Auburn held a comfortable 24-11 lead after one quarter.
As the game continued into the second quarter Akeem Berry continued to fire on all cylinders for Dartmouth but was unable to close the gap by himself, he had 21 points at halftime. A well balanced attack from Davonte Provo, AJ Simmonds and Shaq Johnson allowed the Eagles to hold a comfortable 52-36 advantage going into the halftime break.
Following the break, Dartmouth started to click and take advantages of the Auburn mistakes, closing the gap to 12 points in the third quarter. Both squads traded buckets and finished the quarter with a 13 point Auburn lead going into the final and decisive quarter.
The potent Auburn offense in the first half had disappeared in the final quarter as Auburn was now struggling to find their shot. While the Eagles were in a slump, Dartmouth started to get momentum and take it to the Eagles.
Cody Cluett for Dartmouth seemed to be the momentum shifter as the Spartans went to a full court pressure causing Auburn to make many turnovers. Cluett was able to force turnover after turnover in a matter of minutes swinging the games momentum back to Dartmouth. The once 13 point lead for Auburn was now down to one.
Auburn’s Shaq Johnson who had been having a great game down low fouled out with a few minutes remaining and was forced to sit on the bench. With 17.9 seconds left in the game Dartmouth had possession and a chance to win the game. Dartmouth missed their shot on the possession and AJ Simmonds grabbed the rebound.
Dartmouth had to foul, and with 9.8 seconds left on the clock, they started to foul, doing so four times and sent Daniel Sule to the line with 6.1 seconds left. Sule missed the first, but connected on the second, giving Dartmouth another chance.
They inbounded the ball and had the chance to shoot, missed the shot and AJ Simmonds rebounded the ball again as the clock ran out. However the referees reset the clock with one second left and sent AJ to the line for one more set of free throws. He didn’t miss and made both giving Auburn a four point lead with one second left. Dartmouth inbounded and threw up a last second shot, falling well short of the basket.
Auburn had emerged victorious.
Auburn’s head Coach Lance Sparks spoke to NPH after the thrilling victory.
“The guys came together and we’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout the season with a couple guys down to injuries and what not but, the kids really showed up this weekend and I’m very proud of them. I’m looking forward to provincials and it’s going to be a tough road, we want to be the defending provincial champs and we want to win it back to back and that’s our goal and nothing else will be acceptable.”
In the third place game, Citadel defeated Cole Harbour 101-86. Travis Adams had a big game scoring 37 points in the victory.
Auburn, Dartmouth and Citadel will automatically qualify for the Nova Scotia Provincial Championships and Cole Harbour, Lockview and C. P. Allen will be entered in qualifying tournaments with a chance to make it to provincials.