The Mohawk Men’s Basketball team will be the proud hosts of the Canadian Collegiate Basketball Championships this season, inviting the best teams in the country into the brand new David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre to duke it out for basketball supremacy.
The Mountaineers, who are ranked as the tenth best team in the nation, have come off a string of successful seasons and are looking to challenge for a spot in the tournament in their own right despite having a spot locked up in the tourney as hosts.
The team won the National Championship in 2012 after an exciting run to the finals, knocking off three-time defending champions Humber 89-86 in the provincial finals to secure their bid to nationals. It was Mohawk’s first provincial championship in 40 years, and they used the momentum to work their way through the Canadian Championships, knocking off both the number one and two ranked teams on their way to the trophy.
Mohawk has put together strong teams since then, but haven’t made it back to the championship caliber team of 2012, losing to Sheridan in the OCAA tournament the past two years.
The Mountaineers will head up to Oshawa for Provincials this year, as Durham College hosts the OCAA Tournament. Coming back to Hamilton with the trophy in hand would be the ultimate boost of momentum needed to see their way to another National Championship.
“We are taking it game by game, don’t want to get ahead ourselves, but obviously it’s huge,” said Mohawk’s star forward Matt Fennell. “We would like to win OCAA’s first, then go on to win Nationals. That would be the greatest thing to do.” Fennell is leading the country in scoring; averaging almost 30 points a game. The fifth year player transferred over from the University of Prince Edward Island to add his talents to the Mountaineers lineup.
The National tournament, which will be held from March 19th -21st, will undoubtedly pack the brand new David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre (DBARC), which was a major factor in Mohawk winning the bid for the 2015 tournament. The new 65,000 square foot facility includes a massive outdoor screen, which will be used to broadcast the game on campus to those who aren’t able to squeeze into the packed bleachers. In fact, the school will be looking to add additional bleachers inside the gymnasium to accommodate for the tournament. The DBARC is also equipped with a state of the art workout facility, and professional TV Broadcast equipment, which will be used to televise the games.
“This building will be packed,” Head Coach Brian Jonker predicted when talking to CCAA.ca. “The city would be electric, and everybody will be excited about us hosting and having an opportunity to win yet another national championship.”
This will be the National Tournaments 40th anniversary, which started in 1975 at the Mount Royal College in Calgary. The tournament will include the top eight teams in Canada, including five conference champions, the host team, and two additional spots for teams from conferences who performed strongly the year before.
The Mohawk Athletic and Recreation Department is responsible for organizing the tournament, and Michelle Ball, Director of Student Engagement & Athletics believes this will be an incredible opportunity for not just the Mountaineers, but for the entire school.
“The National Basketball Championships are the crown jewel of sports in Canada,” said Ball in an interview with Ignite News. “It’s the biggest championship you can host. It’s really going to have a lot of pride for our school and it’s going to provide some great opportunities for students to do some on the job training at the championships.”
The Mountaineers have been excited at the prospect of hosting the tournament for almost two years now, and return a solid core of veterans from the championship team of 2012.
Andrew Cicuttini, Mohawk’s all-star forward, leads the core of returning players looking to bring home a championship in their final year. Jeff Hunt, and OCAA west Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor Dowhaniuk also return to take another run at the trophy. Cicuttini is averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds a game through dominating the paint, and Dowhaniuk leads the league in blocks with just over three a game. Add players like Hamilton-natives Matt Savel and Patrick Iavarone, and Mohawk has the ability to compete with any team in the league.
The team has the right pieces in place to make a strong run at the title, and a lot of people expect big things from the Mountaineers this year. After a close exhibition loss to McMaster during the preseason, Marauder’s Head Coach Amos Connolly saw the potential of this year’s squad.
“I will not be shocked when this team wins a National Championship. I think they have all the pieces they need, and when you have a guy like Iavarone come off the bench and play the way he did, I think they are outstanding.”
CCAA Men’s Basketball Championships
David Braley Athletic & Recreation Centre
March 18 – 21
– Visit the athletic website for updates –
Tickets are on sale now, please contact the Athletics Office (R105) at 905-575-2004
Championship Passes – Adult $30 | Student / Senior $20
Day 1 Pass (Thursday March 19, 2015) – Adult $10 | Student / Senior $5
Day 2 Pass (Friday March 20, 2015) – Adult $10 | Student / Senior $5
Day 3 Pass (Saturday March 21, 2015) – Adults $15 | Student / Senior $10
Children Under 12 FREE
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