TORONTO — Exhibition games are more than just exhibition games.
Preseason games serve a ton of purpose for teams as they get ready for the season ahead. They allow for coaches to implement their systems and get their players comfortable. Exhibition games allow for new players to get a taste of the collegiate game before the real deal gets under way.
They also show coaches and players alike what their team has to offer when their backs are against the proverbial wall. On Tuesday night, the Centennial Colts showed that they have a team that is willing to fight right to the final buzzer, regardless of the score.
The Colts took to their home court for an exhibition game against the Mohawk Mountaineers ahead of their 2018-19 OCAA season. While the Mountaineers controlled the game for the first three-quarters, the Colts used the final frame to stage a major comeback and push the game into overtime.
Centennial was down by 14 points heading into the fourth quarter, but when the dust settled, the Colts came away with a 10-point victory over the Mountaineers.
Early in the second quarter, the Mountaineers looked as though they were going to cruise to an easy victory over the Colts. Layups from both Emanuel Otong (Hamilton, ON) and Robert Harrison (Hamilton, ON) gave Mohawk a 21-point lead, at 39-18.
Centennial chipped away at the lead before the break, but the Mountaineers held an 18-point lead after the first half, 46-28.
The third quarter saw the Colts continue to chip into the lead for Mohawks, using a balanced offensive attack that saw four different players reach double-digit points on the night. Centennial trimmed the lead to 14 points at the end of the third quarter, but were looking to send their fans home happy with a victory.
In the final frame, the Colts continued their comeback and took over the game. They chipped away at the lead throughout the final 10 minutes, and a layup from first-year guard Isaiah Cromwell-Wright (Halifax, NS) with just over 20 seconds left on the clock brought the Colts to within two points.
Centennial would claw themselves all the way back, and after a jumper from the Mountaineers was off the mark at the buzzer, the Colts had forced overtime with the score at 77-all.
Overtime saw the hometown Colts continue their strong play from the fourth quarter. With momentum squarely behind the home side, Centennial outscored the Mountaineers by a 14-4 margin in the extra frame to hold down their home court.
They were down by as many as 21 points in the first half, but the Colts came away with a 91-81 win over Mohawks.
Four different players for the Colts reached double figures, led by first-year wing Kyrin Henlin (Pickering, ON). The 6’5” wing posted a game-high 24 points to go along with four rebounds. Three players for Centennial added 15 points apiece: Isaiah Adeboboye (North York, ON), Dieumerci (DM) Betoukoumessou (Toronto), and Cromwell-Wright.
It was a balanced attack for the Mountaineers as well, as they posted five players in double figures, four of whom were starters. Otong led all Mohawk scorers with 21 points in the loss, while adding nine rebounds and five assists to lead the team in both categories.
First year big man Milos Mladian (Hamilton, ON) chipped in with 16 points and three rebounds, while guard Cudjoe Masuka (Brampton, ON) had 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Centennial and Mohawk will square off again on Wednesday night as the teams get ready for the upcoming OCAA season.
– T. Bennett