Another year, another provincial championship for the Humber Hawks women’s basketball team.
But there’s nothing hum-drum about it.
After playing to a perfect 20-0 record during the regular season, the Hawks were crowned OCAA champions by defeating the Fanshawe Falcons in the gold medal match.
It was the fourth straight provincial championship win for the Hawks, tying an OCAA record for most consecutive women’s basketball championships.
“It feels amazing,” Hawks star player Ceejay Nofuente said. “We couldn’t have done it without this team, or obviously past teams, our alumni that played, too.”
The Hawks’ victory came on home turf as well, with the tournament hosted at Humber College’s North Campus Gym this past weekend.
The Hawks met the St. Clair Saints in the quarterfinals first, and the Hawks put their dominance on full display. After an evenly paced first quarter, the Hawks took over, shredding the Saints 82-37.
After defeating last years’ silver medalist team, the Mohawk Mountaineers, in the semi-finals, the Hawks were faced with the Fanshawe Falcons in the finals.
Riding on the strength of a dominant first quarter in which they outscored the Falcons 26-8, the Hawks survived a Fanshawe rally to claim gold, 69-54.
“With all the wins we’ve accumulated over this span, we’ve learned to identify when we’re dipping in our performance,” Hawks coach Ajay Sharma said of the gold medal game. “And we’ve learned how to manage that.”
The Hawks players echoed their coach’s sentiments.
“We did come out hard every game,” Hawks player Jahnae Gyles said. “But the fact that it’s the finals, you have to expect the other team’s not gonna give up.”
“I feel like we kind of slept on that fact, but Coach reminded us, ‘Hey, this is the finals, we don’t let up, we keep pushing,’” she said.
Nofuente, who was named the OCAA Player of the Year for the third consecutive year before the championships, was also named the tournament MVP after the gold medal match.
“It was an honour, being recognized by my teammates, coaches, and whoever else chose to give it to me,” Nofuente said. “I want to thank everyone who helped me get there.”
With another provincial championship wrapped up, the Hawks advance to the CCAA national championship in Sackville, N.B.
Nofuente believes the Hawks have a real shot at claiming the national crown as well.
“I feel amazing about it,” she said. “The way we played our provincial championships, the way we’ve been practicing, we’re ready for it.”
Sharma agrees with his star player, liking the team’s chances after their dominant provincial victory.
“I feel pretty good,” he said. “Based on the way we played, I feel like that’s maybe some of the best basketball we’ve ever played in my time here.”
The national games are scheduled to begin on March 15.
“Its nerve-wracking, but very exciting at the same time,” Gyles said. “To go with this team is a great opportunity. It will be very exciting to see what we can produce on the court.”