Teams always want to win their own tournament, and George Brown College did just that in emphatic fashion, emerging victorious at the 41st Annual Huskies Men's Basketball Tournament.
Taking place at Casa Loma Gymnasium on Jan. 4-5, the field of eight teams included a mixture of east and west squads both well-known and unfamiliar. GBC kicked off their tourney action against the former, facing East Division rivals the Georgian Grizzlies with a spot in the championship bracket on the line.
That victory earned George Brown a Saturday matinee against the Mohawk Mountaineers, who had dispatched the St. Lawrence Vikings to open the tournament, 91-90 in overtime. Though Mohawk provided stiffer competition in a back-and-forth affair, George Brown booked its spot in the championship final with an 80-77 victory against the Mountaineers. There they awaited the winner of St. Clair versus Durham, with the Saints posting a 95-63 win to advance to the final.
With St. Clair having outscored its previous opponents in La Cite and Durham by a combined 205-141, the stage seemed set for a tight, competitive championship final. Instead, the Huskies came out with a killer instinct which simply overwhelmed their opponents.
Despite fielding a squad missing lineup regulars such as Kevon Guiseppi-Mascoe and Adam Costanzo, not to mention losing Robert Ocampo to injury earlier in the tournament, George Brown didn't miss a beat, as their 35-13 first quarter against the Saints could attest.
"We have the mentality of next man up, we do conditioning every day, so it's nothing to us," Huskies guard-forward Carl Veltmann said of the squad's depth receiving extended looks throughout the tournament. "One man goes down, the next man steps up. We're all skilled players, but we're all on one team. We're just looking to share the basketball, play good basketball, and that was case (this tournament)."
The game's remainder was closer to the competitive final originally envisioned, including a valiant, reinvigorated third quarter effort from St. Clair which saw them outscore the hosts. But at no point did it ever feel as though George Brown wasn't in the driver's seat.
By time the final buzzer sounded, the Huskies had earned their 90-58 victory, and by extension, the title of 41st Annual Huskies Men's Basketball Tournament Champions.
Chris Fields earned tournament MVP honours after a combined 45 points and 21 rebounds over three games, while the finals saw three Huskies in Liban Mohamed, Haany Ahmed and Kingslee D'Silva post double-doubles, with the latter two being named tournament all-stars. By game's end, every Huskies athlete had points on the board, and the event as a whole was a testament to the quality of GBC's depth.
Huskies head coach Peter Sambu echoed Veltmann's sentiment, lauding his bench and the way his team competed through three games in 24 hours. And with an eye toward the future, both coach and player saw tremendous value in the tournament as a litmus test and chance to prepare.
"We saw Mohawk early in September when everything was just getting going, this is the first time we've played St. Clair, and we haven't seen Lambton before," said Sambu. "It was a good chance for us to see the rest of the west, because the west is a very strong conference."
With the new year comes new year's resolutions. For Veltmann, his squad's resolution should be a continuation of what has led to a successful season thus far.
"Stay consistent, make sure that we keep our mentality where it is right now, and work hard."
41st Annual Huskies Men's Basketball Tournament
George Brown defeats St. Clair, final score 90-58
Lambton defeats Georgian, final score 90-81
George Brown defeats Mohawk, final score 80-77
St. Clair defeats Durham, final score 95-63
Consolation Semi-Final #1
Georgian defeats St. Lawrence, final score 75-68
Consolation Semi-Final #2
Lambton defeats La Cite, final score 102-88
Mohawk defeats St. Lawrence, final score 91-90
George Brown defeats Georgian, final score 106-56
Durham defeats Lambton, final score 98-92
St. Clair defeats La Cite, final score 110-78
#GBCTournament | 41st Annual Huskies Men's Basketball Tournament MVP:@GBCollege— GBC Athletics & Rec (@GBC_Huskies) January 6, 2019
- Chris Fields (6)
- Haany Ahmed (5)
- Kingslee D'Silva (21)@LambtonLions
- Tyvell Peters (1)@stclairsaints1
- David Gomez Jr. (1)
- Ian Smart (12) pic.twitter.com/HP7f4Qd0UU