By Kajan Thiruthanikasalam
Photos Courtesy Centennial College Colts, Taken By Yvano Antonio & Khree Fearman
It’s been a rather inconsistent first half of the season for the Lady Colts but despite all that, they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Consecutive road wins against the Georgian Grizzlies and the Algonquin Thunder brought the Colts’ record to an even 4-4 on the season. For the Colts, it was the first time that they had won consecutive games this season.
Sophomore forward Yasmeen Smith has taken a major step forward in her development this year. Smith is second in the league in scoring and leads all players in rebounds per game. She has also improved her shooting from the field (46.3%) and the foul line (54.9%)
Don’t let the low free throw percentage fool you. Smith has made 18 of her last 25 free throws (72%) over the last three games. Guard Mariam Konate ranks sixth in the OCAA in steals per game.
“Yasmeen’s been putting in a lot of work and she’s taking it personal,” head coach Justin Bobb said. “She’s accepting the challenge of being a leader on our team. She knows that she’s going to get hit and get to the line and she’s improved her confidence getting to the line. Her touch has improved a lot.”
Meanwhile, the men have kept pace in the OCAA East with a 7-3 record heading into the second half of the season.
Jahshua McFarlane continues to build upon what he started last year. In his second year at Centennial, the point guard leads the team per game in rebounds, assists, and steals.
In terms of the OCAA, McFarlane ranks second in assists per game and assist to turnover ratio. He also ranks fourth in steals per game.
The trio of Kendell Wilson, Alastair Cole (17.0 ppg), and Bailey Burton (14.8 ppg) have combined to average almost 50 points per contest.
The story, however, has been the play of the bench thus far. Heading into this season, head coach Trevor Challenger and the coaching staff wanted to develop the bench so that they can have depth.
“This season I wanted to develop a deeper bench to be competitive at OCAA so hence the reason why we played so many preseason games versus tough OCAA West opponents,” Challenger said. “Guys like Daniel Humphrey, Jason Dennis, Parker Brooks, Nathan Collins, Khaleel Sutherland, Edose Etomi and Hussein Mahdi got a chance to get comfortable. Now they’re starting to find their rhythm and stride. Their energy off the bench brings a different flow once the starters take a seat.”
The improved bench play was evident in the final game of the semester as the Colts beat the Georgian Grizzlies, 93-85. Centennial had 43 bench points to Georgian’s 10 and were led by career high performances from Walshak Yusef, with 15, and Khaleel Sutherland, with 11.
“As the first semester comes to the end, this team has done everything we asked for, from playing hard and being professional off the court,” Challenger said. “Areas of work for the second semester is to be more disciplined on our sets, improve our shooting percentages (41% FG, 26% 3PT, 62% FT) and to better on the defensive end; we’re giving up 79 PPG.”
Both Centennial basketball teams begin second half action on Jan. 12 and Jan. 13 on the road against the Loyalist Lancers and St. Lawrence Vikings before a four game home stand. They each close out the season against the Durham Lords on Feb. 20.
Since the Centennial Colts men’s and women’s volleyball teams came back into the OCAA three years ago, they have not experienced much success. But that has changed this season.
Heading into the end of the first semester, both teams have winning records so far. The women’s squad are 6-3 and the men’s squad are 5-4.
The mantra that the Colts are embracing is to trust the process.
“As Philadelphia 76ers as it is, we’ve got to trust the process,” men’s assistant coach Chichky Hua said. “Working hard at practice and making sure we hold each other accountable will be key to a long and successful season.”
Expectations were high heading into this season for the Centennial women after finishing 10-8 last year. Although the women have had moments of frustration early on (losing to Seneca and Georgian), they have won their last three games.
“In previous years, whenever we’ve been down, we’ve really struggled with coming back up because we never figured out a way to push through,” Pikkov said. “But this year, we’ve accepted that we just have to fight a little bit harder.”
Pikkov says that the team has just simply played the game more, instead of over-thinking.
“We’re playing point-by-point,” Mari Pikkov said. “Half of the time, we don’t even look at the score.”
Pikkov ranks fifth in the OCAA with 95 kills and is 12th in points per set. The Lady Colts have also gained an automatic berth at provincials, due to being the hosts.
“We really want to finish top three in our division,” Pikkov said about a provincial berth. “Next semester is going to be very crucial for us. Every single game matters so we’re going to have to buckle down and study every single team in order for us to win.”
Meanwhile, the Colts men have rebounded after a dismal season, finishing 1-17. They are led by standout rookies Griffin Dubbeld (hitter), Adam Yu Qiu (setter), Eric Slyfield and Arya Yaghini. They have new energy and have brought forward a positive culture to the team.
“Our team is hyped up whenever we score a point; it’s always celebration after celebration,” Dubbeld said.
“The rookies’ presences have been amazing,” Hua said. “It’s a testament to our growing program and the desire to play for the Colts. We rely heavily upon them but one thing that we’ve stressed is that they can’t settle for mediocrity.”
A high point of the season and for Colts volleyball, came on Nov. 30, 2017, when both teams headed on the road and beat the Durham Lords. Before this day, Durham had dominated both teams, winning all eight matches and just losing one set over the span of two years.
The Lady Colts won rather easily, dispatching the Lords in straight sets (25-22, 25-19, 25-13).
“Everyone always looks at us as the underdog team,” Pikkov said. “What matters most is whoever walks off the court with a win.”
Pikkov took great pleasure in winning in front of a stunned Durham crowd, especially after seeing the frustration of the Lords’ coach during the game.
“He assumed that his team would sweep us in three and we just handed it back to them, sweeping them in three,” Pikkov said. “It’s satisfying.”
Meanwhile, the men held their composure after losing a two set lead, taking the fifth and final set decisively (25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 24-26, 15-12). Dubbeld watched the live stream after the game and was satisfied at the surprise from the Durham broadcasters.
“They were pretty shocked at how well we were playing on defense and how well we were scoring,” Dubbeld said.
The double victory signified a slow but certain change of how people view the Colts volleyball teams. Dubbeld says that the rest of the OCAA will find out the hard way if they take the Centennial Colts lightly.
“We are not going to let you walk all over us.”
What a bounce back year it has been for the men’s soccer team.
After a season in which they finished tied for last in the OCAA East with a 1-9 record, the Colts surpassed that win total in the first two games, beating the St. Lawrence Vikings and the Fleming Knights at home.
Despite losing the next two games to the Durham Lords and Algonquin Thunder, Centennial then won four of their next six games (4-1-1) and clinched a playoff berth with a 4-0 win at home against the Seneca Sting.
The Colts finished with a 6-3-1 record, which was good for third in the OCAA East, and headed to Oakville to play the Sheridan Bruins (OCAA Central) in a crossover matchup on Sunday, Oct. 22. This game would determine who would advance to provincials.
Unfortunately, a first ever berth at the provincial championships would have to wait another year as Sheridan scored four goals in the first 23 minutes of the game and ended Centennial’s season, winning 6-2.
Liam Cox, Amjad-Abdul Faragallh, and Tristan Wilson led the team with three goals each this season while Taejon Mikle-Ryan and Ashton Vaz were named OCAA East Division All-Stars.
Goalkeeper Tristan Martino finished third in both clean sheets (four) and wins (five). Martino also finished ninth in the OCAA with 48 saves.
Congratulations to the men on an outstanding season.
It was a trying season for the women’s team as they went 1-9-2, finishing second last in the OCAA East. Offense was a struggle to come by for the Colts as they scored nine goals in total over 12 games.
But although the results weren’t there, the effort definitely was. Despite going winless in their first seven games, the women did not give up.
Their efforts were finally rewarded on Wednesday, Oct. 4, as they beat the Loyalist Lancers at home, 1-0, for their first win of the season. The lone goal was from Rachel Morcos in the 30th minute.
It was clear that the support for the women’s team was there as the men’s team led a packed house in cheering on the girls to
“It just amped up everybody on the team,” midfielder Nicole Warren said after the win. “It’s fun to hear them (cheering us on).”
Warren led Centennial with three goals on the season.
The support both teams showed to each other during the outdoor season was never higher. Good luck to both teams in the upcoming indoor season!