Game story by Ronny Musikitele
On Wednesday night at the Humber Athletic Centre in Etobicoke, the Humber Hawks hosted their crosstown rivals, the Sheridan Bruins. There are certain games OCAA fans circle on their calendar during the year, and tonight was one of them. The fans came to see a show, and with the atmosphere in the gym, the game took on the air of a playoff game.
In what was a back-and-forth affair through three-quarters of play, the Hawks elevated their game late on their way to a 71-56 win over the Bruins in a packed house.
The clear game-changer for the Hawks victory was their feisty defence. They held the Bruins to a poor 28 per cent from the field throughout the game.
After the game, Hawks head coach Ajay Sharma was asked about the brilliant defensive performance by his team, and he said "We been practicing our defence a lot in practice. Being at the right spots and not gambling too much. The girls did a good job in executing tonight."
After starting the year with a number of key injuries, and of course, the loss of a couple of sure-fire first-ballot Hall of Famers in Ceejay Nofuente and Aleena Domingo, things seem to be coming along for the Hawks.
Tonight's win showcased the resilience that the Hawks basketball team possess. Minutes have been an issue to manage with all the injuries on the team, and coach Sharma has been brilliant in his utilization of the entire bench, trying to draw quality minutes from whoever he can. Despite the Hawks being tired late, they were able to close out the game strongly.
The key to the game.
After being outscored 22-16 in the third and seeing the game tighten with Humber holding a slim 3-point advantage, it was a stunning defensive push which led the Hawks to the 15-point win. The Hawks poured in a quarter-best 20 points in the fourth while holding Sheridan to their worst offensive frame of the year, allowing only eight points.
Campbell-Johnson goes on a roll.
The hot hand for the Hawks was Miea Campbell-Johnson, who finished with a game-high 20 points, and 14 rebounds.
Early in the game, the Bruins drew a lot of double teams to Campbell-Johnson forcing her to make tough decisions. But after a half-time speech from her coaches, everything changed.
"We spoke to her at halftime and told her not to force anything. Draw the help, welcome it and try to find your open teammates. It's not just the points that she scored but the points she created for others", said coach Sharma.
Leticia Lopez also had a great game finishing with 14 points, six assist and six steals. Jahae Gyles came off the bench to add 15 points, which included four buckets from beyond the arc.
The Hawks will play a postponed game on Saturday in Hamilton against their long-time rival in the Mohawk Mountaineers. Until last season, the hawks and Mountaineers met in the OCAA Gold Medal game in four consecutive years. The tip is set for 5 p.m.