CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Holland College Hurricanes went from the devastation of losing Friday’s semifinal to winning back-to-back games within 24 hours to capture the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) bronze medal on Saturday night.
The Hurricanes defeated the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners 108-95 in their final game of the season to finish third nationally for the second season in a row.
“You leave (Friday) night and you’re crushed,” Hurricanes coach Josh Whitty admitted. “Then you have to turn around and try to find a way to win the next morning and it’s difficult to do.”
Veteran Hurricanes forward Chase Bowden said Friday’s loss was very tough, but the team had to move on.
“We had them and blew it,” he said Saturday night. “We had a good talk last night and made sure everyone was focused on what we needed to do, so we didn't regret it all summer.”
The Hurricanes accomplished the feat by defeating the Lethbridge Kodiaks 94-89 to qualify for the bronze medal and then knocked off the PACWEST champion Mariners.
But it wasn't a complete team effort.
Whitty said some guys checked out mentally after Friday’s loss and didn't play on Saturday.
“Other guys stepped up and played together with a lot of heart and they earned this medal for the program,” he said.
The turning point came two minutes into the second quarter when Travis Adams held his ground in the paint to draw a charge on CCAA player of the year Usama Zaid. It was his third foul of the game, forcing him to sit the rest of the half.
The Hurricanes were up three at the time, but went on a 24-11 run to take a 58-42 lead to the halftime break.
“Getting their star player out, even though he did end up with 55 (points) at the end of the game, that was a big play,” Adams said. “That slowed down their scoring a bit (and) we just took advantage of it.”
Bowden credited Adams with the game-changing play, but also for staying mentally prepared, despite not starting the contest.
“It was great to see him engaged on the bench and then when he came in he was ready to go.”
The Mariners scored 53 second-half points, powered by Zaid’s 39.
“He’s a pretty God damn good player,” Whitty said. “I’m glad he lives in British Columbia and not somewhere in Atlantic Canada.”
Hurricanes forward Trenity Burdine played his final collegiate game Saturday with his son, Tèjour, in the stands.
“It was great to be able to win a bronze medal in front of him,” he said.
The Hurricanes will reload again for another national title run, but without Burdine’s presence on and off the court.
“That’s a massive loss. He’s one of the best we’ve had,” Whitty said of Burdine.
Bowden was part of the team five years ago that lost to the Mariners in the final. He now has a bronze medal to go with the silver from 2013 and has another year to complete the set.
“Two out of the three, now I just need that gold next year,” he said.