The Holland College Hurricanes men's basketball team is ready to take on the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national championships, following a challenging season in which the team had to forfeit six wins due to using an ineligible player.
The Hurricanes enter the tournament as the fourth seed, after winning an Atlantic Collegiate Championship and a regular season that saw the team finish with 14-and-7 record.
'We couldn't let it affect us'
"It's something that none of us have had to go through before, like it's something new," explained guard and Alberton, P.E.I., native Kenan Wilkie.
"Having played those six games and have to forfeit, yeah, it's hurts the team a little bit, but our mindset was we couldn't let it affect us for the rest of the year."
Head coach Josh Whitty, said it wasn't a situation the team thought it would ever have to deal with, but he felt his players handled it well.
"They were focused, and we got right back into winning and shifted focus to our conference championship and now this," Whitty shared. "Certainly it was a challenging week to do deal with that, but we put it behind us and moved on."
'I'm really excited'
Now, the team is ready to focus on the challenge ahead.
It will face the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans in a quarter-final showdown.
"I'm really excited," shared forward Travis Adams. "I haven't been sleeping much. I've just been thinking about this the whole time. Thinking about playing against a lot of competitive teams and trying to get that gold medal."
"We've been waiting for this weekend all season," added Whitty. "We were the only team all season that knew that were playing this weekend, so we've been preparing and sort of building for this moment."
'We're confident in ourselves'
The Hurricanes have had five straight trips to the national championships.
They've earned a berth in the national semi-finals in three of the last four years. This will be their first opportunity to go for gold on their home court, where they've been nearly unbeatable.
"It's definitely going to be a good experience for sure playing at home," said Wilkie.
"Not really nerves again. We're confident in ourselves. We're ready for it, and I think if anything it's just going to be more of an asset having the crowd behind us and all that. It's just going to give us a lot of positive energy."
"It's a long season," added Whitty.
"We began the first week of September. You've got a whole new group of guys, some have never played with each other before and you ask them to become a team, so we did that really well this year. The guys really like each other and they're really looking forward to playing together this weekend."
'We're excited about this opportunity'
Just three more wins are all that stand between the Hurricanes and their first National Men's Basketball Championship in what they hope will be a storybook ending to their season.
"We've been practicing for a long time now since September," said Wilkie. "So we've had a lot of time to prepare and we've done our homework a little bit on the competition as well, so there's not really any nerves. We're ready."
"To win a national championship, you have to play really well for three days," Whitty added. "That's what it's going to take and we're hoping to do that. We're excited about this opportunity."
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