CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI - With a chance to earn a spot in the national championship game on the line, the Sheridan Bruins men's basketball team (36-3, 19-0 OCAA) got off to just about the worst start imaginable, watching Holland score the game's first 14 points and trailing by as many as 17 in the first quarter.
But the Double-Blue would rally, out-scoring the championship hosts 75-51 over the final three quarters to earn a 93-81 victory that gives them a place in the title game.
"I thought we did an amazing job of maintaining our composure, because we were down pretty big after the first quarter," assistant coach Nick Davis said. "I thought we had to play against the crowd and we had to deal with Holland and their great energy they had in the beginning of the game. Once we got into halftime down three, I felt good. We were positioned to do some great things that second half and as a team we played smarter and we played tougher. The guys had to decide how badly they wanted it and I thought there were some guys that just decided they wanted it really badly."
It took nearly three minutes until the Bruins made their way onto the score sheet, with Ostap Choliy connecting on a three-pointer.
That would be their only bucket in the opening five minutes and they would trail 30-18 after the first period.
In the second quarter, Holland quickly pushed the marging back to 16 but Sheridan would slowly start chipping away at their deficit with five minutes remaining.
After Dylan Periana was fouled on a three-point attempt with 11 seconds until the intermission, he calmly knock down all three free throws to make it a one possession game -- Bruins trailing 46-43 -- at the midway point.
The Double-Blue opened the third quarter on an 11-2 run over the first 2:53 that gave them a 54-48 lead.
The Sheridan advantage would swell to as much as nine in the frame, but Holland would out-score the Bruins 13-3 over the final four and a half minutes of the quarter to re-claim a 66-65 advantage.
The two sides traded the lead back and forth in the early stages of the final quarter, but when Periana drilled a three with just under six minutes remaining, it gave the Bruins an advantage they would not relinquish.
Periana played all 40 minutes and scored a game-high 26 points to go with five steals, four assists and four rebounds.
Paul Williams ripped down a game-high 15 boards.
The team will now square off for the championship against the only team in Canada to have handed them a defeat this year in Montmorency.
Davis says that was a long time ago and both teams have changed and improved since then, but it does at least provide some sense of familiarity.
"With Momo, they have two really great players and we have to do a good job of containing them," he said. "You're not going to shut down great players, but you just want to try and contain them and make them work really hard."