(Toronto, On) With a 101-94 win over St. Clair Saints, the Humber Hawks’ dream season is complete, and the CCAA National Championship is coming back to Toronto.
Going undefeated was an amazing feeling because they didn’t want to feel the pain of losing said Kevin Otoo, and it was their goal to recreate the 2001 season where Humber won the national championship while hosting it.
“It was so amazing to play in front of the fans because they were so supportive, so we wanted to bring it home for them and the community,” said Otoo.
The Hawks’ seventh CCAA National Championship is just the latest achievement for first-year head coach Omar Miles who went undefeated in the 2021-22 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) regular season, won the OCAA gold medal in March with an 87-70 win over these same Saints. Miles said hosting nationals was a special moment for his team and they prepared for each game like it was a championship game.
“The weight and responsibility of hosting nationals in front of family, friends, and alumni could’ve been very daunting on our guys,” said Miles. “But having a veteran coaching staff and having some experienced players and then me being in the role, yes as a first-year head coach, but being with the program and knowing the expectations, I think we were well prepared and comfortable for the challenge ahead.”
Just a minute into the game, the Hawks faced their challenge of the finals. DeQuon Cascart went down after taking an elbow to the eye and left the court with the athletic trainers. Frank “Baby Shaq” Mitchell responded with a huge slam dunk shortly after to get the crowd back into the game before following it up with a textbook post-move. Cascart came back into the game minutes later and nailed a deep three to spur the Hawks on a huge run to end the first quarter up 26-15.
The Saints leaned on Gomez Jr. throughout the second half while he put up a game-high 37 points, and they slowly chipped into the Hawks’ lead with hustle, solid bench contributions, and free throws. Chad Vincent-Simon had 18 points for St. Clair, and Jalen Harmon had 15 points while he battled foul trouble.
Humber always found timely buckets to halt the momentum until late in the fourth quarter when the Saints cut the lead to just five points, but an off-target pass from Harmon and clutch free-throw shooting from Cascart sealed the homecourt win for the Hawks.
Humber’s balanced offensive production carried them to the win, with Cascart scoring 28 points and Otoo adding 25 points. Mitchell also had a massive 20-point, 17 rebound double-double.
It’s a storybook ending for a team that had to overcome an OCAA season whose schedule was altered due to COVID-19 precautions, and then ultimately delayed until February. With the uncertainty around the season happening, the Hawks lost five players before it could get underway.
“Knowing that I had a strong core of eight rotational players, I think may have benefited us as a team,” said Miles. “Being a little bit closer, rather than trying to keep 12 guys happy, I was able to keep eight guys happy in their role and when you’re winning championships and trophies, everyone has to know their role.”
CCAA National Champiobnship Finalists St. Clair Saints