The Hardy brothers re-united this season on the basketball court with a common goal.
Mike and his older brother Steve accomplished that feat earlier this month in Fredericton while wearing the Holland College Hurricanes uniforms.
“We said right from Day 1 we wanted to win a championship,” Steve said. “We accomplished that together, so it was a pretty good feeling.”
The brothers last played together in 2006 when Steve was in Grade 12 and Mike in Grade 10. They won a bronze medal that year for Three Oaks Senior High School.
The past few years Steve was travelling the world while Mike finished his degree at UPEI. With Steve back in the province the two discussed playing at the college before starting their careers.
They won an Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association championship March 3 in Fredericton with a 70-61 win over the host St. Thomas Tommies.
“I kind of looked at him as the celebration was going on and we had our parents come down as well,” said Mike. “It was a real special moment to have us all there together.”
The storybook ending could have had a much different conclusion.
With the Hurricanes trailing by five in the final minute against Mount Saint Vincent in semifinal play, the Hurricanes pulled off a remarkable comeback.
Alvin Parker banked a three-pointer, Leo Morris stole the inbounds pass and delivered the ball to Steve while falling out of bounds. The 26-year-old, who has the word hope tattooed on his right bicep, calmly nailed the game-winning trey in a 58-57 win.
“I’ve been watching it quite a bit lately. It’s kind of a YouTube sensation,” Steve said.
The video has been mentioned on NBCsports.com, Yahoo and Rant Sports.
The clutch shot is even more remarkable given Steve had been ice-cold before sinking the game-winner.
“Really when I made it, I had no idea it put us up one,” he said. “I just jacked it up, knowing we needed to get shots up, and luckily it went in.”
His younger brother didn’t hesitate when asked to recount the play he witnessed from the bench.
“The first thought that went through my head when he was starting to shoot was, ‘What are you doing?’” Mike admitted. “I guess I had to bite my tongue when it went down.”
The magnitude of the shot, in retrospect, isn’t lost on Steve.
“I could have been the goat awful quick, but we’ll take the hero, I guess,” he said with a smile.
The Hardy brothers, like many siblings, grew up spending hours playing a sport with one another.
“He would beat the snot out of me in the driveway,” Mike said. “I would keep putting my mind . . . to keep developing to the point where I could compete and even beat him.”
Steve said that took a few years, but once Mike hit his growth spurt and developed his back-down game in Grade 11, the games became anyone’s for the taking.
The brothers said there is a connection they have that goes deeper than knowing where each other will be on the court.
“We’ve always watched each other play, so we do know each other’s game . . . but it’s more of the personal connection,” Mike said.
“He can see when I am going to fly off the handle a little bit, and he can pull me aside. At the same time, I can see the same in him.”
Steve said having a trip to nationals is “icing on the cake” and a “bonus round,” but that doesn’t mean they are just going to enjoy the ride.
They are heading to Montreal confident in their abilities and knowing they have been through the trials and tribulations and came out on top.
“I think we can go to the nationals and make some noise,” Steve said.
“As long as we believe in ourselves and don’t get caught up in all the hype and bad calls and what have you, the sky’s the limit.”
The Holland College Hurricanes play their first game at nationals on Thursday. Here’s a look at some of the stories The Guardian will be bringing to its readers this week:
u Today – Brothers re-united. Steve and Mike Hardy played together this season for the first time since 2006.
u Wednesday – Playing with passion. A feature on the man who runs the Hurricanes offence, point guard Alvin Parker.
u Thursday – Game day. Breaking down what the Hurricanes need to do to be successful and how they ended up in Montreal.