(Toronto, ON) It was an intense Saturday of basketball at Humber College as the St. Clair Saints and Humber Hawks advanced to Sunday’s CCAA National Championship Final (7:30pm est.). The results set up a championship clash between two deserved heavyweights in what is sure to be a thrilling conclusion to the season.
#15 St. Clair Saints 109 – 90 #1 VIU Mariners
The first semi-final on Saturday sent shockwaves throughout the tournament as the #1 seed VIU Mariners were upset by the red-hot #15 St. Clair Saints, who have danced their way into the final.
It was a back and forth first quarter in this one with the #1 ranked Mariners getting off to a good start. Cameron Gay had it going early for VIU, but timely shooting kept the Saints firmly in the picture as the game was tied at 25 after the first.
The second frame was just as competitive as the opener, with the Saints playing great team basketball and patiently finding great looks. VIU were hitting big shots, but their offence seemed to be out of sync, and it felt as if they were a bit lucky to only be trailing by 2 at the half.
Things would begin to unravel in the third, for the top-seeded Mariners. Issues holding onto the basketball became too much to manage, hurting them badly in what would end up being a 22-6 turnover discrepancy by the end of the game. The Saints took full advantage and punished VIU, outscoring them 25-16 and taking a stranglehold on the game heading into the fourth. The Mariners showed fight late, but the Saints were able to maintain their double-digit advantage through the fourth and advance to the finals with a massive 109-90 underdog win.
David Gomez Jr. was the main offensive threat for St. Clair, scoring 30 points on 11/26 from the floor with 3 rebounds and 6 assists. Jalen Harmon was active in 35 minutes, finishing with a 24-point, 13-rebound double-double. Chad Vincent-Simon was right with Harmon, collecting a double-double of his own with 21 points and 10 boards. The Saints only utilized two players off the bench for a majority of the night, but Jesiah Deerr was effective, scoring 12 points with 4 rebounds.
For VIU, Gay was the leading scorer after a hot start with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Richard Henderson was dominant on the glass in the loss, grabbing 15 boards alongside 21 points. Tori Odom struggled from the field but still finished with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Tyler Anderson was the top performer off the bench for the Mariners, scoring an impressive 8 points in 7 minutes.
The upset win was a thriller, but the Saints will have to move on and re-focus quickly as they play for the championship on Sunday evening.
#3 Humber Hawks 81-79 #5 SAIT Trojans
The second semi-final on Saturday night was an absolute thriller as the #3 seed Humber Hawks took down the #5 SAIT Trojans on their home floor, 81-79 in overtime.
This affair seemed as if it was destined for late drama from the opening tip, as both teams matched each other throughout the first quarter. Unlike the previous semi-final this game was all about defence, with scoring coming at a premium once the game settled in. The Trojans led 19-17 after the first, but struggled to do much of anything in the second, scoring only 12 points. The Hawks weren’t much better with 17 in the second, but it was good enough to give them a 3-point lead at the break. The third quarter was when SAIT began to takeover, and it seemed as if it would be an uphill climb for Humber the rest of the way. The Trojans started to get some consistent offence from Marcus Masters, and they led by 5 going into the final period. Things hung in the balance for the entirety of the fourth, but Humber was able to do enough offensively to tie the game up and send it to overtime at 73-73. The score remained close in overtime as Humber held on to a 2-point lead with time close to expiring. With SAIT in possession, Humber’s Frank Mitchell recorded possibly the biggest block of his life with a near-buzzer-beating rejection, securing the win for Humber and moving them into the finals on their homecourt.
Mitchell was the unquestioned leader for Humber in this one, and not just because of the overtime block. Mitchell had 16 points, an incredible 20 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks in 37 intense minutes. Kevin Otoo led the team in scoring with 26 points, and added 10 rebounds for a double-double of his own. DeQuon Cascart struggled a bit with his shot but still finished with 19 points, while Dwyane Lambert-Cador finished with 12-5-3 on 5/11 from the field.
Masters paved the way offensively for SAIT in the loss, scoring 26 points while grabbing 5 rebounds. Amin Suleman had 15 points but had a difficult time getting shots to fall, while Charlie Conner had 14 with 6 rebounds and a pair of steals. Matur Maluach rounded out the Trojan’s double-digit scorers with 10. Although he only scored 5, Taliik Ross was a difference maker on the glass with 14 boards.
The dramatic win puts Humber into Sunday’s final on their homecourt, but they’ll face an incredibly difficult team in the St. Clair Saints who are playing their best basketball of the entire year. It will be a rematch of their OCAA title game battle, won 87-70, by Humber, The CCAA National Championship game is sure to be a thriller.
Bronze Medal Game:5:00pm Dawson Blues vs. SAIT Trojans
Gold Medal Game: 7:30pm Humber Hawks vs. St. Clair Saints
Catch the CCAA Bronze Medal Game (5pm est.) and Gold Medal Game (7:30pm est.) streamed HERE!