CCAA Championship Final set

Photos by Garrett James Langley Events Centre

THE VIU Mariners are set to battle the Sheridan Bruins for the national championship.
The Mariners, the PacWest champs from Nanaimo, rallied from 19 points down to hand Montreal’s Vanier Cheetahs their first loss of the season in one semifinal while in the other it was Sheridan, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association champions from Oakville, ON, handing another unbeaten squad, the Holland Hurricanes (Charlottetown, PEI) their first loss of the season.
And now the last two teams standing will battle for the CCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship at Langley Events Centre on Saturday (March 16) at 7:30 p.m.
VIU has needed double-digit comebacks in both their two games at the Championship, coming from 15 back to defeat Calgary’s SAIT Trojans in the quarter-finals and then stunning the Cheetahs in Friday’s semifinal, taking their first lead of the game with just 2:19 remaining of what became an 85-83 victory.
“It is the character of the guys. We go down like that, we are not playing well, they never turn on each for a second, it is about the next play, chip away. There is a ton to be said when you can stay together through adversity and this group is maybe the best I’ve ever had at that,” explained VIU coach Matt Kuzminski about the propensity of his scrappy team for rallying when it appears they seemed destined for defeat.
The Mariners are in search of their second ever national title, having won the Championship in 2013.
Sheridan is looking for their third CCAA National title all-time, but first since 1990.
The Bruins had a great start to Friday’s semifinal, leading 16-0 to start but the Hurricanes battled back, taking the lead at the half before the teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 73.
Sheridan coach Jim Flack said the weekly test his Bruins faced during league play – they finished 19-5 and were second in their division – helps prepare them for moments like Friday’s semifinals.
“(Our league) is brutal. We have 22 teams and we beat the crap out of each other night after night after night and you come (to nationals) battle-hardened,” Flack said. “We are tired when we get here but we are ready to compete.”
In Saturday’s other games, the Nomades de Montmorency (Laval, QC) will face Vanier in a rematch of the RSEQ Championship final in one bronze medal semifinal, while the other pits the Humber Hawks (Etobicoke, ON) against Holland.
Those games are at 10 a.m. and noon, respectively, with the victors playing for bronze at 5:30 p.m.
At 2 p.m., the host Langara Falcons (Vancouver, BC) battle the SAIT Trojans (Calgary, AB) in the seventh/eighth place game.