The Niagara Knights men's (8-3, 3rd OCAA West) and women's (5-6, 6th OCAA West) basketball programs will head to Hamilton tonight to take on the Redeemer Royals to kick off the second half of their OCAA regular season schedule. The men are coming off of a major victory in their last matchup which featured the high-powered Sheridan Bruins. The Knights won that much anticipated matchup by a score of 110-95. The women narrowly dropped their matchup with the Bruins, 57-53, but bounced back in the Niagara Invitational tournament against the Loyalist Lancers where they took down the OCAA East opponent 77-49 on route to a 1-1 record in the exhibition tournament.
This will be the second time that the Knights have squared off with the Royals this season after both teams picked up key opening night victories when they hosted their OCAA West foes back on October 19th.
The Royals women's team currently sits in 9th place in the OCAA West with a 4-7 record. Their player to watch will be Tobie Brinkman as the talented third year forward comes into the game averaging 16.7 points and 11.9 rebounds per game. The Knights will also need to shut down fifth year guard Julia Pavlik who is currently putting up 13.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
On the men's side, the Royals enter play as the OCAA's sixth ranked team. Their 8-3 record has them sitting in fourth place in the OCAA West, right behind the Knights who also have an 8-3 record. Leading the way for the Royals is 6'10 forward Spencer Kerssies who is averaging 16.9 points to go along with 12.4 rebounds per game which currently leads the OCAA.
The women's team will welcome first year player Afraa Margan (Kitchener) to the team as the 5'4 guard will suit up for her first game as a Knight against the Royals wearing number 15.
Suiting up for the first time this year for the men will be Sympho Ilunga (St. Catharines) and Lequan Hylton (Mississauga). Both were members of the team before as Ilunga, a 6'8 forward, played in five games last season averaging 2.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Hylton, a 5'10 guard, will rejoin the Knights for a second stint as he played for Niagara for three seasons from 2014 to 2017 where he averaged 10.5 points, 3.4 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game.
A win for the men's basketball team and a loss by the Sheridan Bruins on Saturday against the Lambton Lions would see the Knights retake the second spot in the OCAA West and most likely a rise in the rankings. The Knights are currently the OCCA's seventh ranked team but if they defeat the Royals they would have two straight victories over teams ranked ahead of them.
The Knights and the Royals will start things off with the women's matchup beginning at 6pm, followed by the men's game at 8pm. Both games will take place at Redeemer but a broadcast of the game can be viewed here.