Gulled Omar and Michael Dipersio
The Humber Hawks were able to grasp three more victories last weekend to win themselves the 2015-16 OCAA varsity provincial championship title in mens’ basketball following a rough, injury-laden season.
The Hawks opened the playoffs at Humber College North campus with a win in their first game after a shaky start against St. Lawrence, constantly losing their lead over the Vikings for the entire first half of the game.
Coaches started calling their time outs during a frustrating second and start-of-the-third quarter after the Hawks failed to keep a strong lead, leading to refs calling offensive fouls for the rest of the period.
An abundance of foul calls is nothing new this season to the Hawks, who have had a staggering number of injuries that almost directly affected the team’s end to the season.
“Its hard to play perfect games when your whole starting lineup is injured,” said Richard Fernandes, the Hawks’ physical therapist. Among the injuries, Humber shooting guard Michael Kayeye was taken out earlier in the season after a practice resulted in a knee injury.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries this year,” said the Hawks head coach Shawn Collins before their quarter-final game against the Vikings on Thursday.
“St. Lawrence is a pretty good team, and in my 11 years here we’ve been upset by St. Lawrence in the past.”
Vikings Guard Jaz Bains challenged the Hawks’ defective line with the speed and sharp reflexes that earned him the title of 2015-16 men’s basketball Player of the Year at the OCAA awards banquet a season after being named the OCAA Rookie of the year.
“Guys have stepped up, guys that haven’t had a lot of playing time this year, (who) play 25 minutes and sit back down. We’ve had guys score more than 10, 20 points a game this year. We’ve been a team effort this whole year,” added Collins.
Bains was able to help keep his team in the lead until Humber’s own star point guard Gibson Eduful stepped up and combined with guard C.J. Bennet for 26 points later in the game
Eduful was named 2016 OCAA West Division First Team All Star at a Championship banquet back in February. Gibson led the Hawks to the CCAA national championship last season and did his team proud again with a whopping 267 points this season; an average of 14.8 points per game.
The Hawks walked away from two rivalries unscathed and finished the OCAA tournament as the provincial champions with an 86-79 win over the Mohawk Mountaineers.
The Humber Hawks men’s basketball team, defending CCAA National Champions and current OCAA Champions, are set to return to the CCAA Nationals hosted by Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alberta. The Hawks enter the event as the number two seed; just behind the team they beat to win gold last year, the Victoria Island University Mariners.
Despite losing key players throughout the season, the Hawks have proved to be a force to be reckoned with as they are now current back-to-back OCAA champions, and are working on the process of having their players return injury-free and start performing at an even higher level.
The Hawks will open the Nationals on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. They’ll face the seventh seeded and wildcard Camosun Chargers, the ‘Cinderella’ team of the CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship.