SYDNEY, NS — Four Cape Breton basketball players won the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association championships on Sunday with the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics.
Sydney Mines’ Dawson Berze-Butts and Sydney’s Adam Callaghan won the men’s league title, while Alder Point’s Alisha McNeil and Sydney’s Teaonna Carroll won in the women’s.
In the men’s championship, the Mystics edged the St. Thomas Tommies 69-67 with Berze-Butts dropping the game-winning basket with 10 seconds left in the game at Lady Beaverbrook Gym in Fredericton.
Before the shot, Berze-Butts admits he was unhappy with his shooting game but was happy to be the best for his club when they needed him most.
‘KEEP IT SIMPLE’
“I kept it simple, got on two feet and got the ball out of the backboard,” Berze-Butts said. “Basketball is a beautiful thing.”
Berze-Butts, a third-year player with the club, finished the game with 13 points. Mo Abukar powered the team’s offense with 17 points off the bench, while Will Spalding added 16 points in the win.
Gayo Isaya led the Tommies with a team-high 15 points, followed by Vincent Lyttleton with 14 points and Geoffrey Lavoie with 13 points.
The road to the championship match was not easy for the Mystics.
The club finished the regular season tied for fifth in the standings with a 4-8 record – and were later considered the sixth seed – and were forced to win four games in seven days to claim the title .
In the quarter-finals, MSVU beat No. 3 seed Mount Allison 96-82, before overcoming the No. 1-seeded Holland College Hurricanes 91-83 in the semi-finals ahead of Sunday’s championship win. .
Callaghan, who was benched for the Mystics, said it was a surreal feeling to claim the No. 6 seed, but attributes the win to his teammates’ work ethic.
“I’m so happy that we can continue to compete as a team at Nationals later this month,” Callaghan said. “For me, in my freshman year, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
Meanwhile, in the women’s division, the Mystics defeated the St. Thomas Tommies 72-67 to win the league title at A. Garnet Brown Gymnasium in Halifax.
McNeil, who was named to the league’s second-team all-conference last week, dropped 14 points and had five rebounds in the game. The league’s most valuable player, Kelsey Crocker, had a game-high 23 points in the win.
“Sharing this experience with my teammates is overwhelming,” said McNeil, a third-year player on the team. “I’m so proud of what we’ve had to go through over the past two years and then winning this banner means so much to our team.”
Vanessa Soffee had a team-high 18 points in the game for the Tommies. Madison Owens recorded 11 points and Mary Besselink had nine points in the losing cause.
The women’s team had an easier route to the league title.
The club secured a spot in the semi-finals by finishing first in the standings with a 9-2 record. They beat Mount Allison 74-60 in the semifinals before defeating the Tommies in the final.
In 2020, McNeil and the Mystics were scheduled to play in the national championship in Nanaimo, B.C., but were later canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were excited and ready to go to BC at the time and now we can pack our bags again and I can’t think of a more awesome team to do this with,” McNeil said. “I can’t wait to be on the national stage.”
The men’s national championship is March 25-27 at Humber College in Toronto, while the women’s national tournament is scheduled for March 25-27 in Nanaimo.
– Jeremy Fraser is the sports reporter for the Cape Breton Post. Follow him on Twitter @CBPost_Jeremy.