Hawks win hard fought CCAA Championship

Hawks win hard fought CCAA Championship

Gold Medal Match: Humber Hawks 68, Dawson Blues 61

The Humber Hawks defeated the Dawson Blues to claim the 2018 CCAA Basketball National Championship.

The match began and ended like a heavyweight boxing championship bout, each team trading punches until the final bell. Humber prevailed by a score of 68-61.

The pace throughout the game was fast and intense. Early on, Dawson's interior defence was exceptional, denying inside passes and disrupting Humber's inbound attempts. Eleanore Marciszewski provided Dawson with offensive production, making four shots in the opening frame. Humber's Aleena Domingo was key to keeping Humber close. The quarter closed with Dawson up, 23-20.

The second quarter went back and forth in terms of scoring, with seven lead changes. Dawson held onto a one-point advantage at the half, 36-35. In the third, though, Humber found another gear, and engineered a 13-5 run out of the gate. Ceejay Nofuente and Aleena Domingo continued to put points on the board in the second half. Dawson received excellent contributions from Nelly Uwusu, Dahomee Forgues, and Roxane Makolo. Humber slowly built their lead to 10 in the latter half of the final quarter, and was able to withstand Dawson's pressure down the stretch for the 7-point victory.

Alena Domingo led the scoring for Humber with 22, to go along with 7 boards. Ceejay Nofuente pitched in with 21. The Blues were led by Dahomee Forgues who notched 14 point and 5 boards. Eleanore Marciszewski and Roxane Makolo added 13 points each.

Player of the Game: Felicia Velasquez, Humber Hawks
Player of the Game: Eleanore Marciszewski, Dawson Blues

Bronze Medal Match: Nomades de Montmorency 85, MSVU Mystics 67

The battle for bronze came down to two conference runners-up: the Nomades de Montmorency Nomades versus the MSVU Mystics. From the outset, the Nomades pushed the ball and tempo and took the early lead. MoMo demonstrated their ability to stretch the floor with accurate outside shooting, then take it inside using their height advantage.

MSVU depended on outside shooting, which worked for a while—just after the mid-way mark of the first, the score was tied at 15. Montmorency then went on a tear, with multiple threes from Torres, and single threes from Kabunda, Achi, and Laberge. The quarter ended 29-13 for he Nomades, and the Mystics were on their heels.

The second opened as the first concluded, and the Nomades led 43-19 before the Mystics regained some of their mojo. A Kate Gallant two inside, followed by threes from Maria Carroll, Marika Williams, and Kelsey Clory, gave the Halifax club some self-confidence heading into the break. The half ended 48-30 Montmorency.

The Nomades kept the pressure on with a full court press, which the Mystics were able to break periodically and generate points. Yet the Nomades also added to their total with regularity, and led 70-44 after the third.

But the Mystics came to life in the fourth. Improved execution on both ends of the court earned them two runs and they were able to cut the deficit to under 20. Although the Mystics outscored the Nomades in the fourth (23-15), the Nomades' combination of height, speed, and shooting accuracy were just too much. Final score, 85-66 Montmorency— Bronze medalists.

Montmorency's Andrea Torres had a monster game, with 31 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 steals. Juliette Gauthier added 19 and Jael Kabunda 13. Kate Gallant led Mystics scorers with 18, along with 13 rebounds. Marika Williams added 14 and Maria Carroll 8.

Player of the Game: Paule-Beline Ibata-Pondza, Nomades de Montmorency
Player of the Game: Kelsey McGrath, MSVU Mystics

Match 9: Nomades de Montmorency 83, Capilano Blues 66

Montmorency came out quickly, as if making a statement after their tough loss to Humber the night before. However, their 10-2 advantage out of the gate was erased by the determined squad from Capilano, who squared it at 15 with a run of their own. MoMo was able to get the ball down low to Torres and Ibata-Pondza to take advantage of mismatches against the smaller Capilano guards, and Montmorency led at the half 26-17.

The Nomades put on a full-court press to open the second, pressuring the ball and creating offence from turnovers. The Blues called timeout to regroup. Unable to consistently get the ball inside, Capilano attempted to get back in the game with mid- and long-rang shots, but points were hard to come by. The Blues shot 11% from the three-point line, compared with the Nomades' 33%. MoMo stretched their lead to 19 at the half, 46-27.

The Blues came out with more energy in the third, but sustained pressure from the Quebec squad prevented Capilano from making much headway in the third. When a last second 3 by Jael Kabunda from just over half dropped, the Nomades had a 66-42 lead and Capilano seemed deflated.

They weren't. Although the Nomades stretched the lead to 29, the Blues never gave up.  Sparked by outside shooting from Dela Cruz and Dosanjh, Capilano pulled within 12 with two minutes left. It was a valiant effort, but the seasoned Montmorency team controlled the game to the final buzzer, thereby earning a spot in the Bronze medal game against MSVU with an 83-67 victory.

Top scorers for MoMo were Andrea Torres and Juliette Gauthier, 12 each, Ibata-Pondza, with 8. The Blues were led by M'bikata with 8 points and Mackenzie Smith with 6.

Player of the Game: Jael Kabunda, Nomades de Montmorency
Player of the Game: Francis Penafiel, Capilano Blues

Match 10: MSVU Mystics 61, Mount Allison 47

The second Bronze qualifier was a rematch of the ACAA championship game, won by the Mount Allison Mounties in overtime against the MSVU Mystics. A good crowd of fans cheering for each school ensured a great atmosphere.

MtA jumped out to an early lead, despite running into foul trouble. They played the Mystics tough inside, not allowing inside passes to Mystics' starting post Kate Gallant. MSVU's Maria Carroll and MtA's Sarah McGeachy traded banked-in 3's off the backboard, which seemed to give both teams a boost. Karly Buckingham came off the bench for the Mounties and gave the team an immediate boost, playing 16 productive minutes at both ends of the court. Rookie Nikki Arsenault came off the bench and ignited the Mystics with 8 first quarter points, staking MSVU with a slim, 15-14 lead after one.

Aggressive defence by both teams marked the start of the second. MSVU's Kate Gallant twice had three shots in a row, each time frustrated by Mounties defenders. Madison Jennex and Marika Williams' long–range scores allowed the Mystics to take a 35-24 lead into the second half.

Both teams were cold to open the second half, but back to back 3's by MtA's Emma Hachey and MSVU's Marika Williams shook the rust off for both sides. MtA pulled within 7 and seemed to have regained the momentum; however the Mystic full-court pressure generated 7 points in the last 1:30. Heading into the fourth: Mystics 51-Mounties 37.

Kelsey McGrath dropped four quick points to increase the Mystics' lead to 18, forcing a MtA timeout. The Mounties regrouped and immediately came right back with buckets from Buckingham, Mangold and MacEachern, which closed the gap by six. The balance of the quarter was characterized by tough, no-holds barred defence and on-ball pressure from both squads. MSVU came away with the 61-47 win, and a spot in the Bronze medal match against Montmorency.

For the Mystics, it was Marika Williams who led the way with 20 points. Kate Gallant added 11, plus 15 rebounds. Kelsey McGrath and Nikki Arsenault had 10 points each. The Mounties received 18 from Lauren MacEachern, 9 from Karly Buckingham, and 8 each from Emma Hachey and Kiersten Mangold.

Player of the Game: Maria Carroll, MSVU Mystics
Player of the Game: Karly Buckingham, Mount Allison Mounties

Match 11: St. Mary's Lightning 77, Medicine Hat Rattlers 55

In another conference championship rematch, as St. Mary's University Lightening of Calgary took on the Rattlers from Medicine Hat. A competitive first quarter ended with the Lightening holding a slim, 18-16 lead. Emily Wagner came off the bench for St. Mary's and immediately made an impact. Wagner notched 18 points in the first half—nearly half her team's total. Despite the Rattlers' best efforts, St. Mary's seemed to have more jump, and ended the half up 40-29.

Strong, second-half efforts from the Rattlers Jordyn Kearley, Rachel Sherven, and Courtney Henry kept them in them game against the Lightening's attack. Wagner's performance was exemplary, as she finished the game with a tournament-high 27 points on 10 for 15 shooting—including all five of the 3-pointers she attempted. The Lightening were just too much for the Rattlers, and won by a score of 77-55.

Emily Wagner led St. Mary's with 27 points, and chipped in four rebounds. Montana Romeril added 15 and 5. Medicine Hat's Jordyn Kearley and Rachel Sherven each booked 13 points, and Kennedy Werre nabbed a game-high 11 boards.

Player of the Game: Emily Wagner, St. Mary's Lightning
Player of the Game: Rachel Sherven, Medicine Hat Rattlers

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