TORONTO — Their record may show a loss last season, but the Seneca Sting never lost a game during the 2017-18 campaign.
In their OCAA opener against the St. Lawrence (K) Vikings, the Sting took an odd 2-0 loss. Their loss was due to an administrative error on Seneca. It’s something that most will never know the full story behind the incident, but it shows as a loss on the Sting’s record.
As the season moved along, that would be their only blemish all season long.
From there, the Sting would rattle off 19 straight wins in the regular season, a streak that would carry them into the OCAA playoffs and into the title game. A win over the Humber Hawks in the gold medal game would propel the Sting to the CCAA National Championship tournament riding a 23-game winning streak.
There, the Sting were matched up against some of the best teams from coast to coast. A win over the Lakeland College Rustlers in the opener put the Sting on the right side of the bracket. When the dust settled, the Sting were crowned national champions for the first time in school history with a win over the Douglas College Royals.
Now, on the heels of their banner season, the Sting are the team to beat in both the OCAA and the CCAA. How will they handle the pressure?
Only time will tell.
All season long, the Sting were a machine on the offensive end of the floor. In 20 regular season games against OCAA opponents, Seneca averaged an impressive 90.6 points per contest. They scored 90+ points on 10 occasions, and they topped the 100-point mark in three of those contests.
Seneca never scored fewer than 73 points in a game, and that includes the post-season. Their season-high was 113 points against the Canadore Panthers back on February 16th.
The Sting had four players average double-digit points per game last season, led by guard Yusuf Ali. Now with the Ryerson Rams, Ali averaged a team-high 16.6 points per game last season in OCAA play (regular season and playoffs). He shot 49.0% from the floor and 40.7% from beyond the arc to spark the offense.
Ali also dished out 5.9 assists to just 1.7 turnovers per game, and he added 4.0 rebounds per contest for an all-round impressive season for the Sting.
Not to be outdone by Ali, Khalil Miller had an impressive season in his own right, and was a key piece to the Sting’s championship puzzle. Miller was second on the team in scoring, averaging 15.8 points per game on 52.2% shooting from the floor. The 6’8” forward from Scarborough, ON added 9.8 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, both of which were team-highs for the season.
Ali and Miller gave the Sting a top-tier tandem on the offensive end of the floor last season. The Sting had balance across their lineup on both ends of the floor, and they will look to replicate that this season as they enter the year as the defending national champions for the first time.
The Sting started varsity tryouts on Friday, September 7th, so their roster for the upcoming season has yet to be set. However, it will be hard to replace the production that Ali contributed to the team a year ago. Tryouts will run until September 13th, and the roster will be finalized shortly thereafter.
One player that will be on the roster will be guard Julio Vazquez. He comes to the Sting by way of Upper Canada College and the York Lions. Vazquez was a part of the Lions’ program for three seasons before committing to McNeilly and the Sting.
*When the roster is released, we will update the team preview.*
Seneca will begin their title defense on Friday, October 19th when they take on the Georgian Grizzlies at home. The Sting will look to continue their winning ways and keep their winning streak going into the new season.
– T. Bennett