The Holland College Hurricanes have cleared the first hurdle at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) men’s basketball championships in Montreal.
Making their national championship debut, the fifth-seeded Hurricanes led the entire game, as they made timely shots and played solid defence en route to a 72-61 victory over the Champlain St-Lambert Cavaliers.
While they led by as much as 20 at one point, the Hurricanes knew the game wasn’t going to be easy, said point guard Alvin Parker.
“They’re not a team you’re going to beat by 20 points. We didn’t see them as a team we could blow out, so we kept the same focus.”
Holland College was ready for their first national appearance, said Hurricanes centre Chase Bowden.
“Everyone was quiet in the warm-up, and usually that’s a bad thing, but everyone was just so focused. We were motivated to prove that we belong here, and we’re one of the best teams in the country.”
Holland College jumped out to an early 10-4 lead. The Quebec champion and fourth-seeded Cavaliers clawed their way back, getting to within two late in the first quarter.
However, the Hurricanes went on a 14-4 run, buoyed by a late three-pointer in the first quarter from Parker and an early second quarter three-pointer from Leo Morris.
The run established a double-digit lead for the Hurricanes, and they went into halftime with a 38-24 lead thanks to late treys from the Hardy brothers, Mike and Steve.
Steve was just getting warmed up, as he connected three more times from beyond the arc to give the Hurricanes a 20-point lead late in the third quarter.
“Steve always steps up in big games, and he’s an amazing player on both ends of the court,” Bowden said.
Champlain’s Nolan Woodward led the Cavaliers on a 9-3 run to end the quarter with Holland College leading 59-45.
“We had a couple of mental lapses in the third and fourth quarter, but we were able to keep it together and keep our heads in it, and we were able to pull through,” Bowden said.
Parker made sure the Hurricanes wouldn’t be caught as he put up nine points in the fourth quarter, including a key three-pointer to finish with a game-high 24 to go along with seven assists and six rebounds.
Morris and Bowden each had 14 points for Holland College, while Steve Hardy finished with 13.
David Belanger was the Cavaliers’ player of the game with 15 points, while Kenny Jean Louis had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Holland College will now play the top seed and PACWEST champion Langara Falcons at 9:30 p.m. Atlantic time on Friday. The game can be seen at www.sportscanada.tv.
"They’re a really good team, but we’re a really good team, too. We came here to earn respect, and that’s what we want to do,” Parker said.
The Hurricanes need to maintain their defensive intensity against the Falcons, Bowden said.
“They’re huge, and they can shoot really well. What put us ahead today was our defence, so we have to stay in everyone’s faces and we’ll be good.”