Game-winning three-pointer by Kyrin Henlin (shot by: Leo Solorsano)
By: Teru Ikeda and Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
SCARBOROUGH, ONT.- WOW.
That basically is the one word that sums up Thursday night's heated matchup between the Centennial Colts and the defending CCAA champion Seneca Sting.
Centennial (2-0) pulled off the unthinkable, upsetting the Sting, 72-71, at a packed Athletic and Wellness Centre, with cheering sections from both teams.
It was the Sting's first regular season loss, in which was not a forfeit, since February 10, 2017.
"There is so much area for growth and improvement," Trevor Challenger, Colts Head Coach, said after the game. "I thought our turnovers were too high especially in crucial situations during the game (but) I think our guys battled hard on defence despite the turnovers."
Three players scored in double figures for Centennial, led by Isaiah Cromwell-Wright's team high 16 points before fouling out late in the game. Kyrin Henlin had 15, including the game winner, while Isaiah Adeboboye dropped 11 and also put incredible full court pressure on Seneca's guards.
"Isaiah (Adeboboye) is still transitioning from prep to college; he's still learning how to play defence against bigger and stronger guards," Challenger said. "His aggressive play on both ends gives the team opportunities to play an uptempo style."
Nabil Ibrahim led all scorers with 19 points while Ryan Ricketts had 16 off of the bench. Daniel Wright and Dimitri Lim each had nine, also coming off the bench.
A lot went down tonight so let's break this down.
It looked like the way this game started that the Sting were going to wipe the floor with the Colts, as they forced five turnovers.
"Hats off to Seneca's full court zone press; it forced our players to react quicker and took time off the shot clock which forced us to take hurried shots," Challenger said.
But Centennial managed to hang in there and a buzzer beating jumper by Mahad Abdulle brought them to within one (17-16) at the end of the quarter.
Centennial finally cut back on the turnovers to start off the second quarter as they finally took the lead but Seneca's hot shooting from behind the arc kept it really tight. Henlin, Ian Francis, and Quentin Herbert each had five in the quarter; Herbert's triple to end the quarter gave Centennial a 37-34 lead at the half.
Cromwell-Wright had seven points in the third quarter as Centennial built upon their lead, shooting 64 per cent from the field and outscoring the Sting, 24-17, in the quarter, as they took a 10 point lead (61-51) heading into the final frame.
Sting head coach Jay McNeilly went big to start the fourth quarter and it immediately paid dividends as they went on a 13-2 run, capped off by Nabil Ibrahim's triple to take a 64-63 lead.
"During the fourth, we made a few adjustments to find mismatches," Challenger said. "We wanted to put guys in areas of their strengths."
Cromwell-Wright then crossed Miller and hit a contested triple in response before Nabil Ibrahim then hit yet another three. A minute later, Cromwell-Wright fouled out on a questionable call and in frustration, Ian Francis earned himself a technical foul.
"Cromwell-Wright fouling out was huge for us; his gameplay is a big part of (the) team," Challenger said. "However we have guys like Herbert, Francis and veteran guard Carlo Pantaleon that can pick up the load."
It was 68-66 in favour of Seneca when Daniel Wright grabbed the rebound off of a miss from the Colts. But Edose Etomi ripped the ball away from him and promptly laid the ball in to tie the game at 68.
"Both Edose (Etomi) and (Kyrin) Henlin played tough down the stretch to give us an opportunity to win," Challenger said.
The ending to this game would turn out to be one of the greatest in OCAA history.
THE FINAL MINUTE OF GLORY
"The final minute I kept thinking about all games I've experienced as a player and coach," Challenger said. "I've been on both ends, so I was nervous of course. We just wanted our players to know the game situation."
Adeboboye dribbled past half court only for the Sting defense to tie up the ball, forcing a jump ball that signalled possession for the Sting with 31 seconds to go tied at 68. But Isse Ibrahim stepped on the head of Adeboboye after the play, which the refs called for an unsportsmanlike foul.
Adeboboye split the pair and Centennial had the ball to add onto the lead but were unable to convert, giving the national champions a chance of getting the win.
Nabil Ibrahim, who led all scorers with 19 points, faked a pass to the perimeter in which two Colts players bit on. He then hit a wide open triple with 3.4 seconds left to put Seneca up two, in which it hit the rim and the backboard multiple times before falling through.
The Colts then called for time to set up one last play. And this was when Henlin turned into the hero as he curled towards the left corner and drained a fadeaway triple over the outstretched arms of Khalil Miller with a second left as fans stormed onto the court.
But the game wasn't over as Seneca had one last chance to bring heartbreak to the home fans. As Isse Ibrahim went up to catch the inbound lob, he was fouled by Adeboboye, to the disbelief of the home team and its fans.
However, the basketball gods smiled down on the Colts as Isse missed both shots at the line, sending the home team and their fans into a frenzy. This time, the game was over.
NOTABLE GAME STATS
The Sting made four more triples (11-7), six more field goals (28-22) and outscored Centennial in points in the paint (30-16) as well as bench points (44-14). But the work of the starters (58-27) and the free throw line (20-4) played a major role in the home team's win.
Miller, a CCAA All-Canadian last year, was held scoreless in this game while Isse Ibrahim, one of the glue players for the Sting, only had one point.
NBYMP CANADA MAKES AN APPEARANCE (BOYS)
Before the men's game, NBYMP presented a $500 cheque to Colts Cares. Boys from the National Basketball Youth Mentorship Program (NBYMP) came out to play at halftime. They fought hard and enjoyed themselves in front of a cheering crowd and great music!
The link to the NBYMP halftime game is as follows: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmsv3KEk
TOP 3 COLTS PERFORMERS OF THE GAME
Kyrin Henlin (15 points, game winning triple)
Edose Etomi (nine points, seven rebounds)
Isaiah Adeboboye (11 points, eight rebounds)
CATCH OUR NEXT GAME
The Centennial Colts look to continue riding upon this incredible momentum heading into Oshawa, Ont., against the Durham Lords on Tuesday Oct. 30 at 8:00pm.
"Durham is such a tough team at home. They will be prepared for us; we've just got to stick to our game plan," Challenger said. "Rebounding, low turnovers and and defensive effort will give us a chance to win."