Kajan Thiruthanikasalam (Sports Writer, Colts Athletics)
SCARBOROUGH, ONT.- Down by as many as 14 in the second quarter to the George Brown Huskies, Centennial kept chipping away at the lead until a three point play by Nathan Collins to start off the fourth quarter gave the Colts their first lead of the game at 62-59. It was, however, the only lead they would have.
George Brown (15-2) came out on top, 80-71, over Centennial (12-6) at the Athletic and Wellness Centre in what was a gritty, defensive minded battle. Both teams shot under 40 per cent from the field (Centennial: 32.1, George Brown: 32.6) and the rebounding battle was close but the biggest difference maker this game was the turnover battle, where Centennial committed 26 compared to George Brown's 18.
"It's not the output we wanted. Obviously, we wanted to win the game but winning wouldn't have solved some of our deficiencies," head coach Trevor Challenger said. The guys and the coaches were upset and I still think we have to do a better job on defending the wing and defending dribble penetration but other than that, the guys competed extremely hard."
Kendell Wilson led all scorers with 26 points, his seventh straight game scoring 15 or more points this season, hitting key shots throughout the game.
"Going into game 18, you can see the growth in Kendell throughout the semester and being able to take aggressive hits and shoot the ball," Challenger said. "He hit big shots to keep us in the game. Had he not hit those shots, we lose that game by 20."
Bailey Burton finished the game with a double-double, with 13 points and a team high 12 rebounds while Jahshua McFarlane finished with 11 points and a game high four assists. Walshak Yusef also finished in double digits for rebounding with 10 while McFarlane and Jason Dennis each had a team high three steals. Dennis also had eight rebounds off the bench.
After being destroyed, 62-51, on the glass in the last meeting at George Brown, the Colts were only outrebounded by one (57-56) this time around.
"The last eight or so games, we've been taking a conscious effort on gang rebounding and I think we've outrebounded teams in six of those games," Challenger said. "Pushing guards to go out there and rebound is always a difficult thing because they have to contest a shot and then run back in. I think the gang rebounding was key for the guys and being in the right spots at the right times."
Alex Petronis led four Huskies players in double digit scoring with 16 points while De-Shaun Williams (15) and Matthew Bukovec (14) combined for 29 points off of the bench. Teshayn Gayle was the other Husky in double figures with 14 points but was instrumental late, with 10 coming in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies beat the Colts in assists (16-8), steals (16-10), and bench points (37-9).
Offense was hard for both teams to come by to start off the game as the score was only 8-7 with less than four minutes left in the quarter. But the Huskies closed out on a 12-2 run, including the last six points as they led 20-9 after one. Williams had six during that stretch while Wilson led all scorers with seven first quarter points.
Bukovec hit a triple to start off the quarter before a layup from Hussein Madhi ended the run. The deficit was at 13 (28-15) when Wilson scored six straight points, highlighted by a fastbreak dunk that got the crowd going... and which ultimately got him a technical foul for taunting.
Wilson's mini-scoring outburst sparked a 14-3 run from Centennial overall to cut the lead to two (37-35) but a putback from Williams and a layup from Petronis gave the Huskies a 41-35 lead at the half. Burton led all scorers with eight second quarter points.
In the third quarter, Yusef started to get it going, scoring seven in the frame, including a nifty eurostep reverse layup that got the Colts bench out of their seats. Meanwhile, Wilson continued his scoring prowess with nine in the third, including a triple that cut the George Brown lead to one.
After a layup from Bukovec, McFarlane held the ball for the last shot of the quarter and promptly drained a stepback triple to tie the game at 59, heading into the final frame. It was the first tie of the game.
Collins' three point play to start off the fourth gave the Colts a three point lead before the Huskies scored nine straight points, capped off by a pair of triples from Bukovec. Centennial then reeled off five points in a row before Gayle heated up, going on a personal 10-1 run to give George Brown a 76-68 lead with 2:35 left, forcing a Colts timeout.
Wilson was fouled on a three point attempt and sank all three free throws to cut the deficit to five but Petronis and Gayle closed it out for the Huskies, each hitting a pair of free throws.
The Colts do not play again until next Saturday when they face OCAA leading scorer Daniel Smalling (26.5 ppg) and the 6-11 Canadore Panthers. Smalling scored 26 points the last time the two teams played and has scored 20 or more points in 12 straight games. Challenger says that containing Smalling will require all hands on deck.
"When you have a guard as a leading scorer, they're going to get their scores in transition and get to the foul line. We're going to make sure we do our job in initiating our defensive pressure so that he doesn't get comfortable," Challenger said. "We'll throw everybody at him to slow him down."