Mohawk bags silver medal at OCAA cager finals
The Mountaineers, seeded seventh in the eight team tourney notwithstanding they were the event hosts, gave it everything they had Saturday night but were no match for a skilled and experienced Thunder crew which captured the gold medal with a 76 65 win.
The final score actually flattered the hosts. The Ottawa school, which went 16 0 this season, won their fourth straight OCAA gold and have lost just two regular season contests over the past five seasons, jumped out to 17 8 first quarter lead.
The Thunder pushed it 46 29 at the half by shooting over 40 per cent from the floor while the Mountaineers struggled to hit 25 per cent of their shots.
Algonquin cruised from there. Kudos to Mohawk, the hosts outscored the Thunder 24 12 in the final quarter as the large and enthusiastic crowd at the David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre tried to spark the Fennell Avenue females. The outcome was never really in doubt after the first 15 minutes. Four peats just don’t happen.
Algonquin fifth year star Sandra Bascoe led the victor Swarovski Crystals s with 12 points and 13 rebound and was named the tournament MVP. Jesa Rada had 10 points for the champs.
Rachelle Abella, named a tournament all star along with younger sister Jen, paced the Mountaineers with 16 points. Lacey Wolters connected for 12 points and had 10 rebounds. Stef Hyrmak chipped in 11 points.
“I’m very disappointed in the outcome but I’m very proud of our girls because we came back so much,” Mohawk’s Careena Browne said afterwards.
“As coach said in the change room we didn’t lose the gold medal, we won the silver,” she said of Mohawk’s first medal since the crew captured a bronze in 2002. Mohawk last won gold in 1991 when current assistant coach Kelly Dunham was getting physical in the paint and scoring buckets of baskets for legendary Mohawk head coach Earl Begg.
“We played hard, we gave it our all. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough but I’m happy I could get a medal with my girls,” Browne continued.
“Heartbreak, obviously,” Rachelle Abella said when asked for her thoughts postgame. “But they are a good team. They made all their shots. We fought till the end so that’s all I could really ask for,” she said.
Duffy, whose crew went 8 Swarovski Crystals 1 on home court this season, said only one word was on his tongue post game.
“Pride. Just absolute pride. I can’t say enough about these girls. I said to them after the game that people of lesser character, lesser fabric would have just packed it in and would have lost their game by 40 or 50.
“They kept chatting for one Swarovski Crystals another on the bench, they kept encouraging one another. They never gave up. Their effort never waned for one second out there. And I just can’t say enough about them,” he said.
The story of this one was Algonquin, which shot 60 per cent for the contest, couldn’t be stopped from scoring. And when the Mountaineers fouled them the Thunder hit 64 per cent from the free throw line.
Conversely, the Ottawa school made Mohawk sweat for every basket. And when the Mountaineers missed, shooting just 33 per cent, the bigger gals from the capital capitalized on the glass, out rebounding Mohawk on the defensive boards 33 21.
Victorious Thunder head coach John MacInnis said there was a simple reason his club was able to prevail. Experience.
“We’ve been here before in front of big crowds and that kind of thing. But we knew it was going to be a battle. They showed it in the fourth quarter. They battled, they have a lot of heart and all kudos to them they put in a good game,” he said.
MacInnis said Mohawk was one of the teams he was keeping a eye on.
“They have a lot of offence and the Abella sisters are deadly. And the Stef Hyrmak kid played really well. So they have a lot of weapons,” he said.
Algonquin advances to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Championship at Champlain College Saint Lambert Quebec, March 12 15.
St. Clair won the bronze medal with a 59 57 win over St. Lawrence College of Kingston.
Earlier Saturday in Brampton the Mohawk men cagers lost their semi final to Sheridan in the OC Swarovski Crystals AA tournament finals.
But there should be some smiles on the McMaster campus this morning. Trevon McNeil hit for 23 and Leon Alexander fired 21 points as the Marauders’ men’s basketball squad won the Wilson Cup bronze medal with a 93 89 overtime thriller over the Windsor Lancers.