The third game of day one will see the tournament hosting Niagara Knights take on the CCAA top ranked, and OCAA east division champion, Seneca Sting. The hosting Knights look to improve on last season’s bronze medal loss to the rival Humber Hawks. Niagara must use the hometown crowd to their advantage if they hope to find success against the nation’s top program.
“We need to match Seneca’s intensity,” said knights’ 4th year guard Levi Mukuna (Hamilton, Ont.). “Our team has to come out swinging if we hope to compete with the best program in the nation." Niagara finished in 4th spot within the OCAA West Division with a regular season record of 13-7.
Knights’ head coach Mike Hurley understands the Challenge ahead, but is confident that his program is well prepared to compete. “Our advantage is that we have had weeks to prepare,” said knights’ head coach Mike Hurley. “With our program competing in the west, we have had many matchups against programs similar to Seneca.“ The Knights face their toughest opponent so far, and a win against the Sting Thursday night is a crucial step in the right direction.
If the Knights hope to find success in Thursday's game against Seneca, they must rely on on strong performances from veteran guard's Levi Mukuna and Van Hutchinson Jr. (Nassau, Bahamas). The combo has been outstanding for the Knights this season averaging 18.8 and 16.9 points respectively.
The Sting come in into this year’s provincial tournament as the proverbial favourites, posting a 19-1 regular season record to be crowned the OCAA East Division Champions. The program looks to move on from last year’s early tournament exit, losing last year’s quarter-final 82-61 to the eventual bronze medal winning Humber Hawks. ”Our ultimate goal for this tournament is to win a medal”, said Seneca’s head coach Jay McNeilly. “We know that winning a provincial medal is a difficult, but I believe our guys are up for the challenge.“
Defense is the name of the game for the sting, who averaged an OCAA low 69 points-against during the regular season. “Defense is our major focus heading into Thursday night,” said Sting’s third year guard Yusuf Ali (Toronto, Ont.). “We have one of the best defenders in Kahlil Miller, which makes it easy for us to throw different defensive looks at each opponent.”
Second year forward Khalil Miller has been an all-around force for the Sting this season. His towering 6’8 frame makes the Scarborough, Ontario product an absolute nightmare to deal with on both sides of the court. Miller also led his program in scoring averaging a team best 15.4 points per game.
Seneca qualified for this year’s tournament after their 83-63 crossover win over the St. Clair Saints.
Tip off between the cross-divisional opponents is set for 6pm.