UTM Division 1 men's basketball team makes it to finals in Humber College tournament

The UTM Eagles pose for a photo after the championship game against Humber North on December 4. Brent Page Photo
The UTM Eagles pose for a photo after the championship game against Humber North on December 4. Brent Page Photo

The Mens Division 1 team played in the OCAA Humber College Extramural Basketball Tournament on December 4. Extramural tournaments at the OCAA involve college teams comprised of ex-varsity and top non-varsity players. Missing a few players due to exams, UTM went to Humber with only eight, and were looking to better their last performance against Humber North, whom they lost to in the semi-final of the UTM OCAA Extramural Tournament.

UTM had the tournament opening game at 8:15 a.m. against the top-ranked Humber College North team. UTM came out slowly after almost arriving late for the game and trailed 31-17 at the half. The second half was much better for UTM, with all its players hitting the score sheet in the second half. The team, however, still couldnt cut into the Humber lead, and the North squad ended the game on a 7-0 run to make the final score 59-40. Fedja Kuljanin and Osama Abdelkader led UTM in scoring with nine points each.

UTM then faced Senecas York Campus in the next game. UTM held leads of 14-5 and 22-12 before Seneca scored the last six points of the half to close the gap to 22-18. In the second half, Seneca was able to hang with UTM with the two teams trading baskets all half. Seneca managed to take a one point 41-40 lead late in the second half on a three pointer by Joel Wilson. UTM had a three of their own on a basket and a made foul shot by Abdelkader. The two teams then traded leads for the last minute until UTMs Kent Bray scored the winning basket. UTM had scraped by for a much needed 46-43 win. Bray was the UTM teams leading scorer with 11 points.

UTM then took on North Bays Canadore College in a must win game to advance to the medal round. The undersized Canadore team was able to stay with UTM in the first half to keep the game close. UTM led at the half 30-20. Early in the second half UTM finally realized that Canadore had no post player that could cover Kuljanin, and easy dumps inside led to Kuljanin scoring all of his game and team high 18 points in the second. UTM went on to a convincing 65-43 win, ensuring their spot in the semis.

UTMs opponent in the semi-final was Sheridan College, who finished first in their pool. Sheridan came out strong and UTM, who were dominant inside in the previous game, looked to score from the three point line at the start of this game. UTM hit three straight threes but still trailed Sheridan 11-9. Sheridan ended the half with a five point, 25-20 lead over the Eagles. With less than 80 seconds left, it appeared that UTM was on the verge of elimination. Sheridan had a 42 to 34 lead and was looking to slow the game down. Their stall did not work as missed foul shots and UTM steals allowed UTM to pull within four. UTMs

Ambrish Patel hit a three pointer to pull UTM to within one point, 42-41 with 15 seconds left. UTM managed to get the ball back on a Sheridan turnover and called a time-out with 2.8 seconds on the clock.

The Sheridan team pressured the half-court inbounds, almost forcing a five count until Kuljanin came to the ball from the elbow and caught the ball just outside the three point line. Two or three Sheridan defenders jumped out on him, but he was able to turn and find a wide open Andre Woodroffe in the paint four feet from the basket. Woodroffes shot went up, narrowly beating the buzzer, and then went swish for the one point UTM win, 43-42. The UTM players jumped off the bench, mauling Woodroffe after the refs delayed basket good signal had given everyone a near heart attack. UTM had managed to claw back from an eight point deficit within 80 seconds to earn a spot in the final. Patel led UTM and all scorers with 16 points, and Woodroffe added nine points.

UTM then faced Humber North for the second time in the tournament and third time this year. The Humber squad of 14 players had too much left in the tank in the final and they were not about to lose on home court. UTM was hanging in tough, refusing to give up, but with the score 13-10 for Humber, the Humber team went on a 17-4 run and led 30-14 at the half. The second half was all Humber as they cruised to a 63-30 win over an exhausted UTM Eagles squad. UTM were awarded t-shirts for being the tournament finalists. Woodroffe had nine points in the losing cause for UTM, while Bray added eight and Fiaz Ahmed had four.

All the players should be proud of their play, as five games in a day is really tough, and to make it to the final with only eight players was quite an accomplishment. The team consisted of  Elias Sbiet, Ahmed Fiaz, Kent Bray, Andre Woodroffe, Osama Abdelkader, Fedja Kuljanin, Ambrish Patel and Luke Maker.

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