It will go down as one of the most entertaining finals in the history of Canadian collegiate basketball.
The Langara Falcons roared back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit, escaped a barrage of threes late in regulation, and eventually held on for an 88-86 victory over the Red Deer Kings to claim gold in the 2014 CCAA Men's Basketball National Championship Saturday night in Squamish, B.C.
Fifth-year Red Deer point guard Lloyd Strickland hit four improbable three-pointers in the final 30 seconds of the game, but was blanketed on his final attempt and couldn't manage to get a shot off as time expired.
Strickland crumbled to the floor in disbelief, while the Falcons and their 100-plus fans flooded centre court in a sea of orange.
"People thought if they got us in a close game that we'd have a tough time. But we came back against VIU in the PACWEST championship, and we came back again tonight," said Langara head coach Paul Eberhardt, winning his first CCAA national title.
"I've been around for so long and seen so much crazy stuff, but I was just like come on? Are you kidding me? Really?" said an exuberant Eberhardt of Strickland's late-game heroics.
Eberhardt was elated as his players threw themselves into each other's arms.
"It's still a bit surreal to be honest with you," he said. "We just found a way to do it again."
Langara's point guard Brody Greig had a team-high 24 points to go along with 10 assists and nine rebounds. Greig was the catalyst for the Falcons, hitting shot after shot, continuously finding his teammates amid a suffocating Kings' defense, and calmly knocking down free-throw after free-throw once Red Deer was forced to foul down the stretch.
"I think Brody just wasn't going to let us lose today," said Eberhardt of his All-Canadian guard.
"Obviously we're disappointed," said Red Deer head coach Clayton Pottinger, as the silver medal around his neck offered no consolation for the heartbreaking defeat. "I thought our guys played like champions, played through foul trouble, played through adversity, but give Langara all the credit. That's a fantastic basketball team over there, led by one of the best players I've ever coached against - Brody Greig."
Red Deer's white-hot Strickland gave his heart and soul in the last minutes of his collegiate basketball career, finishing with a game-high 34 points, but his unbelievable shooting performance in the waning seconds of the final frame came as no surprise to Pottinger.
"If you know Lloyd Strickland, you cannot be surprised by what just happened. The kid's a warrior and he's ready to do it when it's time to do it," said Pottinger.
Fourth-year forward Clayton Crellin added 24 points and seven rebounds in an utterly-dominate offensive performance in the early stages of the fourth-quarter.
"Crellin is very difficult to guard," said Eberhardt. "We tried single, then we tried doubling on those screens, but he just kept hitting shots. Fortunately at the end, we were doubling really hard and he missed a few. Ultimately you can't really stop him when he's on."
Langara wins their first national championship since 1999, and will undoubtedly remember this achievement for the rest of their lives.
"These guys have bonded unbelievably. Just the greatest group of guys I've ever coached," said Eberhardt.
"When you win a championship with a team, that's just a bond that never goes away. We'll be tight for a long time to come."
Brody Greig (Langara)
1st All-Star Team
Jitinder Lohcham (Langara)
Clayton Crellin (Red Deer)
Dylan Periana (Sheridan)
Max Joseph (Vanier)
Lloyd Strickland (Red Deer)
2nd All-Star Team
Chase Bowden (Holland)
Jose Colorado (Quest)
Michael Selkridge (Sheridan)
Justin Kinnear (Vanier)
Elliot Mason (Langara)