The Humber Hawks are the OCAA women’s basketball champions.
On the shoulders of a dominant third quarter in the gold medal game at Centennial College on Saturday, the Hawks pulled away from the Mohawk Mountaineers to be crowned the best in the OCAA.
“It feels surreal, but it feels amazing to have accomplished one of the team goals,” said third-year shooting guard Natalie Hagopian. “We worked so hard throughout the whole year to be where we are today.”
The 61-46 final score was not indicative of the whole game, as Humber was losing by three points at half time.
Mary Asare was awarded the championship MVP award after playing a key defending role throughout the tournament, constantly shutting down the other teams’ best scorers every game.
The final outcome of the gold medal game was Humber’s largest margin of victory throughout the tournament, after winning two closely contested games to reach the final.
Humber beat Niagara College in the opening game of the tournament by six points, led by Aleena Domingo’s 13-point effort.
The semi-final victory over four-time defending champion Algonquin Thunder proved to be Humber’s greatest test all tournament, winning by three points in a back and forth battle.
“It’s pretty amazing, we’ve always got to this point, and it either doesn’t go our way or it’s just been so close, and we finally made it over that hump,” said third-year power forward and player of the game Atissa Cronk. “We’re going to the gold medal game, and I couldn’t be more happy.”
The semi-final was a see-saw battle, seeing Algonquin College storm back to take the lead in the final quarter.
“It’s basketball, ebb and flow, teams are going to come back when the game settles down,” said Humber head coach Ajay Sharma. “We talked about that in our timeout, people are going to come back, and you’ve got to respond to it.”
The gold medal ended a nine-year drought for Humber, who hadn’t won the OCAA women’s basketball championship since 2005.
“This team is the greatest bunch of people I’ve ever played with and was coached by, there’s no other team I would have rather gone through this war with,” said Hagopian.
Humber now sets its sights on the rest of Canada, when they compete in the CCAA championship at Vancouver Island University starting March 17.
Humber will seek to be the first women’s basketball team in school history to finish on the podium at nationals.
“With a positive attitude, our team dynamics, our relentless effort, and our desire to win, I think we can accomplish anything,” said Hagopian.