Mountaineers lose finale, miss playoffs
Mohawk’s women’s basketball team had their fate in their hands when Humber visited the Fennell Gymnasium on Wednesday (Feb. 22). The Mountaineers could have assured themselves a playoff spot if they had pulled their regular season record to .500 and beat Humber.
“We just didn’t have any hustle in the first half but we picked it up in the second half and I guess we just showed them that we won’t give up,” said Mohawk’s starting point guard, Rachelle Abella.
Mohawk looked like different teams in the two halves, climbing back from a 19-point deficit to stay competitive at the end. But Mohawk had too big a hill to climb and the result was an 8-10 finish to their regular season and narrowly missing the playoffs after a 65-58 loss.
“I guess we just deserved to win,” said Abella with tears in her eyes about her emotions after the game. “We played so hard for the whole season to just end like that and we played our heart out at the end so I guess it’s just emotional.”
The Mountaineers looked as though the nervousness of their season possibly coming to an end affected their play at the start. The women were not running an effective offence, having to rush to beat the shot clock at almost every possession.
The Hawks were running most of their offence into the post through their center, Atissa Cronk. Cronk’s ability to finish at the basket resulted in a team high 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting.
With a 38-19 score at half time, it seemed Mohawk couldn’t compete with the Hawks. However, Mohawk came out in the third quarter and started playing with the urgency they needed to keep their season’s hopes alive.
“We seem to be that way,” said Mohawk’s head coach, Kevin Duffy, about his team’s difference in play from the first half to the second. “When we’re up at the half we come out flat and we’re down at the half we come out hard.”
Duffy didn’t want to use any excuses about the loss, giving Humber credit for their defence and making shots when they needed to, but mentioned illness as a possible reason for his team’s slow start to the game.
The season as a whole could be seen as a success for the Mountaineers. Mohawk improved their win total by six compared to last year and could have made the playoffs with a win or a Niagara loss on the final day of the regular season. Unfortunately for Mohawk, Niagara was able to finish ahead of the Mountaineers by one win after defeating Lambton 71-63 in their last regular season game.
Looking ahead to next season, Mohawk’s leading scorer of the last two seasons, Abella, says she will be back with the team.
“We just want to get better next year and learn from what we did this year and grow as players and as a team,” she said.
At half time graduating players Joanna Brown, Lindsey Bokor, Marina Ciannavei, Keanan Vernon, Amanda Weaver and Kaitlynn Marquard were all honoured for their service with the team with flowers from the coaching staff.