Montmorency's Elie Karojo (left) and Sheridan's Nick Campbell battle for a loose ball in Thursday's Elite 8 clash here at the CCAA nationals in Langley. (Photo by Wilson Wong 2019. All Rights Reserved)
Feature University Men's Basketball

CCAA Nationals Day 1: It’s all about empowerment! Senior leadership carries Sheridan’s Bruins into Friday’s Final Four

LANGLEY — They swept through the OCAA playoffs back in Ontario, winning by an average margin of 20 points.

They opened Thursday in the first round of the CCAA national championships at the Langley Events Centre with a 22-points win, 105-83 victory, over Laval’s Nomades de Montmorency. (full updated Friday schedule below)

Now, riding a six-game win streak, it’s safe to say that the Sheridan Bruins are peaking at the perfect time.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but that’s for sure,” Bruins’ head coach Jim Flack agreed after his squad advanced to Friday’s Final Four.

“Late in our conference season, things weren’t looking good (back-to-back losses to Mohawk and Fanshawe),” continued Flack, “but the senior leadership on this team, not the coaches, never wavered. They just kept pushing forward, and it doesn’t happen like that every year.”

For Flack, whose nine OCAA titles are the most in the conference’s 52-year history, it has been an especially satisfying and liberating environment in which to coach.

The buy-in, the ownership and ultimately, the empowerment clearly manifested itself on the court as the Bruins shot a ridiculous 57 per cent (41-of-72) from the field on Thursday, 21 of those attempts (8-of-21) coming from beyond the arc.

Nick Campbell led the winners with 28 points while Kahleek Bakari-White added 27, Keenan Dando-Dappah 15 and A.J. Thompson 10.

Montmorency was led by the 22 points of Charles Cousins, the 14 points and 11 rebounds of Elie Karojo, 14 more from Blondeau Tchoukuiegno, and Mcfadden Jean with 15.

Sheridan’s A.J. Thompson (left) proves to be a real load for Montmorency’s Christophe Fortier on Thursday at the LEC. (Photo by Wilson Wong 2019. All Rights Reserved)

“Every coach will tell you that if you get senior leaders that will take the reins, you can worry about tactics and substitutions and not about behaviour and motivation,” Flack continued. “Then it frees you up. You’re not baby-sitting.”

The Bruins streak began with a 90-80 home floor win over the Humber Hawks back on Feb 15 and prior to Thursday, was capped by last week’s 86-70 win over the same Hawks in the OCAA title game.

“We had a huge win over Humber at our place,” Flack said referencing the Feb. 15 win. “That has leveraged into what we have done in the post season.”

The Bruins will face the winner of Thursday’s late contest between No. 1 seed Holland of PEI and Vancouver’s Langara Falcons.

“Tomorrow, who knows what’s going to happen,” Flack said. “But to steal a phrase, its survive and advance, and that’s what we did today.”

CCAA NATIONALS

FINAL FOUR FRIDAY

(all games at Langley Events Centre, all times PDT)

CONSOLATION DRAW

1 p.m. — Humber vs. SAIT

3 p.m. — Langara vs. Montmorency

CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW

SEMIFINALS

5:30 p.m — Vancouver Island vs. Vanier

7:30 p.m. — Sheridan vs. Holland

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