SCARBOROUGH, Ont. - The Sheridan Bruins men's basketball team (33-3, 18-0 OCAA) needed to dodge a last second possession in regulation that would have knocked them from championship contention, but pulled away from Humber in overtime to pick up a 94-85 victory and reach the OCAA Championship Game.
"It was one of those gut 'em out wins," assistant coach Nick Davis said. "Both teams played very hard [but] I don't think we played very well, either team. It was one of those games where I think the team that wanted it the most won. And I'm not trying to say Humber didn't want it, but I think we wanted it just a little bit more after what happened to us last year."
As has been a staple of the rivalry between the two sides through three meetings this season, it was close the entire way with neither team holding a lead larger than seven points until the final pair of free throws in the dying moments of overtime gave the Double-Blue a nine-point cushion.
In fact, seven points was the largest lead for either team in both prior meetings.
The Bruins fell behind early in the first quarter, but found their legs midway through the frame and led 22-21 after one.
Humber began to seize control in the second when they held their largest lead at 37-30, but Sheridan managed to trim the margin to two and trailed 39-37 at the break.
The Double-Blue would re-claim the lead going into the fourth quarter (63-62) and held a seven-point edge with less than five minutes to play, but saw Humber slowly chip away and level the game at 82-82 after 40 minutes.
Sheridan would win the extra period 12-3, doing much of their damage at the free throw line where they converted eight of 10 attempts.
After shooting a dismal seven of 14 from the charity stripe in the first half, the Bruins would improve considerably in the second half and overtime, knocking down 19 of 22 attempts.
In total, the game featured 16 lead changes and 15 ties.
Dylan Periana scored a team-high 17 points to go with six assists, while Paul Willaims (16 points, 12 rebounds), Brian Owusu (16 points), Ostap Choliy (15 points) and Nick Campbell (14 points) were also in double figures.
The victory propels the Bruins into the OCAA title game for the first time since 2014 where they will meet the East Division champions from George Brown, who defeated Niagara 85-74.
While both teams have now secured a spot at the national championship in two weeks, Davis says the teams focus is completely on the game sitting in front of them.
"We came here to win a championship," he said. "Winning the semi final is just one of our goals that we've accomplished. It's one step in our three-step process when we get here and we still have one step to go. Our whole plan is to go out there and win the whole thing and win it for Coach Flack. We're not satisfied with just winning the semi final, getting to the final and going to nationals. That's great, but I don't think we're going to be satisfied as a group unless we win the ontario championship."