ETOBICOKE, ON: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. Humber was led by great leadership from Tyrone Dickson, who tallied 13 points and 14 rebounds, and Gibson Eduful, who raked in 15 points and 10 assists.
The Mountaineers meant business by taking a 4-2 lead. Then forward Kenny Ejim showed them up with a jump shot that hit nothing but net. The Nest was bustling with conflicted noise for the Mountaineers and the Hawks. The neon orange Mohawk cheering section drowned out the Nest when forward Jeff Hunt made a steal in Humber’s paint and found guard Lamar Barr streaking down the floor for a contested finger roll. The Mountaineers were up early and an 11-6 lead forced a Humber timeout with five minutes gone in the frame. Humber freshman C.J. Bennett, who was spectacular in the semis, stepped up at the right time with a three pointer out of the timeout. He kept the Hawks’ momentum going when he made a strong drive to the basket and followed his shot in traffic for the put back. Guard Gibson Eduful drew a foul on the next possession and tied it up at 13. Centre Vule Grujic had a huge block on the other end to highlight the tight defence in the quarter. Despite the tight D on both ends the Mountaineers took a 20-17 lead at the buzzer.
Humber guard Curwin Elvis woke up the offence with a layup on his own rebound that set Ejim up for a monster two handed slam on the next possession. But the Hawks were getting into early foul trouble and it gave the Mountaineers and handful of free points from the line. Mohawk guard Patrick Iavarone showed off his own shooter’s touch with a three in the corner that bounced around the backboard and through the cylinder. It was enough for the Hawks to call a timeout trailing 30-23. The tables turned with a wide open three from Eduful that sent the Mountaineers into a timeout. It was a 33-28 game for Mohawk. Bennett and Iavarone exchanged a set of back-to-back three pointers that shook the Nest but the reaction was nothing compared to when forward Tyrone Dickson made a layup with harm and completed the and-one. Dickson smacked away Hunt’s offensive rebound attempt but both squads countered each other with stops at the end of the half with Mohawk keeping a 45-43 lead.
Ejim broke the ice with a rim rocking dunk to tie the game. That was the closest they got to taking a lead, the Mountaineers stayed in control with a dime from Hunt to stay in front 53-49. Eduful stayed composed despite trailing in the game and ran the offence with great passing and found his big men down low. When he took it upon himself to hit a three pointer the crowd went wild for the 56-53 Humber catch-up. With the game winding down the Hawks had the chance to tie the game and gave the ball to Dickson. He got the ball in triple coverage but couldn’t get off a shot under the net. Mohawk got a big block and the stop to stay in the lead 60-58 at the buzzer.
The Mountaineers didn’t budge all game. That was until guard Jordan Rose made a three pointer at the top of the arc to give Humber their first lead of the half at 65-62. Mohawk didn’t let down and their hot shooting put them back up 67-65 until Dickson used his strength under the basket for another lay in plus the foul. The Hawks tied it back up again 67-67 and then Martin and Eduful gave Humber the go-ahead buckets for a 71-67 game with four and a half minutes remaining. Bennett clutched up again by making two free throws and it gave the Hawks an edge by getting the Mountaineers into some foul trouble. The Hawks gained their largest lead in the game off of a beautiful fade away jumper from Martin for the 77-71 margin, sending the Mountaineers into another timeout. The Hawks smelled blood after an Ejim reverse layup and a bucket off a rebound from Dickson and never looked back with their 81-73 lead. The Hawks held the Mountaineers for the rest of the way to claim the OCAA Championship 86-78 in ultra-dramatic fashion.
Bennett was the Hawks Nation Player of the Game with a game high of 19 points. The rest of the awards included a Tournament All-Star nod for Eduful, and the Tournament MVP honours went to a deserving Dickson.
The Hawks and the Mountaineers will prepare for the CCAA National Championships taking place March 17-19 at Keyano College in Fort McMurray, Alberta.