Men Hurricanes look to repeat at ACAA basketball championships; Women Hurricanes ready to climb ‘that mountain’
February 28, 2014
It’s repeat time for the Holland College Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes won their first Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) men’s basketball championship a year ago on their way to a silver medal at the nationals. They start the defence of their conference title tonight in Bible Hill, N.S.
“Last year was pretty special, but this year is a whole new ball game,” said guard Steve Hardy. “We’re just looking to do what we did last year. We’re going to go in and compete all three nights and come home the champs.”
The Hurricanes finished 18-3 last year and 17-4 this year, but given the expectations for 2013-14, some considered it a disappointing season.
“We have a lot of expectations and everyone wants to get back to nationals and do what we did last year,” said forward Chase Bowden. “This is the weekend to prove we’re still that good.”
The ACAA has two berths in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship from March 11 to 16 at Quest University in Squamish, B.C. The two teams in the ACAA final qualify for the nationals.
The Hurricanes finished the regular season tied for second with Mount Saint Vincent but lost the first-round bye based on head-to-head meetings.
The teams were a game behind conference-leading Crandall.
The Hurricanes are ranked ninth in the country while Crandall is fourth and Mount Saint Vincent is 10th.
“The reality is, we feel if we play our best basketball then we’re the best team here, it’s just a matter of going out and doing it,” first-year head coach Josh Whitty said.
The Hurricanes begin their quest against the sixth-place University of King’s College Blue Devils at 3 p.m.
“They’re going to be ready to play because they don’t want to just let us walk all over them,” Bowden said.
Bowden and Hardy are among the key veteran returnees along with Alvin Parker and Jake Kendrick.
Holland College reloaded with players like Orlando Palmer, Aaron Evans, Eamon Morrissy and Alex Howlett.
“While they’re new guys, they’re very experienced players,” Whitty said. “We have a lot of experience and we certainly think that’s going to be a contributor to this weekend’s success.”
Hardy said another key would be to control the tempo of the games.
“We can score in bunches . . . . so we’re going to try and push the tempo and be the aggressors,” he said.
Holland College team to play at ACAA basketball championships in N.S.
The Holland College Hurricanes women’s basketball team is a win away from qualifying for the nationals.
The Hurricanes earned a first-round bye in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) championships with a 19-2 regular season record, good for second in the conference and their best season in team history.
“We’re pretty excited about the possibility of advancing to nationals,” coach Mike Connolly said. “We’re quite hopeful we can get there and have that experience.”
The team is coming off handing the top-ranked St. Thomas Tommies their first loss after winning 98 straight games last Saturday.
“Those guys have our number, and everybody else’s number for that matter, for a long, long time,” Connolly said. “To be able to climb that mountain and get to the other side of it is, psychologically, a real big break for us.”
The Hurricanes’ semifinal opponent on Saturday will be the highest seed to win in today’s quarter-finals. The ACAA has two bids to this year’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship this season, March 11 to 16 at Champlain College Saint-Lambert in Saint-Lambert, Que., meaning a berth in the ACAA final guarantees a spot at nationals.
The Tommies went from the second-ranked team in the country to fifth in this week’s rankings while the Hurricanes jumped from 10 to six. They are the only ACAA teams in the top 15.
Jenea Barrett joined the Hurricanes on her birthday, Jan. 3, and leads the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game.
“I’m proud of the girls,” she said. “The girls play with a lot of heart this weekend. It’s really exciting seeing where we are as a team and our potential. I think we can do great things.”
One of four Toronto natives on the team, Barrett said it will be key to remain focused and positive when adversity comes during the tournament.
“These girls have really made a commitment to sticking together,” Connolly added. “Our themes is play hard and stick together.”
*Story and photos credited to Jason Malloy, the Guardian
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