Josh McFarlene determined to lead Centennial Colts to new heights

Pickering, Ontario native is back for his second season

Even though it’s just preseason, the excitement can be felt throughout the gym for Josh McFarlene and the Centennial Colts.

They’re hoping for a different outcome than last year, one that doesn’t end in agonizing defeat.

“I think it was a good learning experience,” McFarlene said about losing to Niagara in last year’s OCAA quarterfinals. “Especially me being in my first season and actually making the playoffs.

“And I think now our team is more up-tempo so we’ll probably, I think, we’ll improve. But we’ll probably still be around the same record.”

He took a lot of positives out of the 2016-17 season when the Colts finished 15-5, ended the regular schedule on a six-game win streak, and their quarterfinal game which went to overtime could’ve gone either way.

McFarlene was already an important player in his first year as a starting point guard, playing 32.7 minutes a game — including 41 in the quarterfinal — and averaged 12.3 point per game on a field goal percentage of 45.6.

This year, he’s one of just four returning players along with Bailey Burton, Malique Hyde, and Daniel Humphrey.

josh mcfarlene centennial colts basketball
Josh McFarlene handles the ball in a preseason game against the Niagara Knights. (David Rouben/Toronto Observer)

“The biggest thing is, with college basketball in Canada, you have kids for maybe two or three years depending on the program, so there’s always a high turnover,” said Colts coach Trevor Challenger, now in his second year coaching the team.

Challenger regards McFarlene as one of his team’s leaders, calling him “a very veteran player, very experienced player, so it’s easy for him to work together with new people coming in.”

And with Alex “AC” Hagoriles gone, McFarlene is the primary weapon in the Colts’ backcourt.

Challenger described this Colts team as a little faster and a little bit more aggressive compared to last year —  a system that fits McFarlene’s skill set.

McFarlene drives up the court with an explosive burst of speed, and is constantly looking to create something. He has an attacking mindset, and tries to get his teammates involved as often as possible.

His favourite player is Russell Westbrook, and it’s hard not to see him try to mimic his idol on plays like this:

The most challenging part of coaching a team with so many newcomers is trying to replace the chemistry. However, after their first exhibition game against York — which ended in a 107-61 loss — coach Challenger has been impressed with the work ethic of his players so far.

“We played all 14 players about 15 minutes or so … and we gave everyone an opportunity. Guys are still learning the systems and still learning the philosophies so we did expect to lose that game.

“The guys didn’t hang their heads, came back the next day and they practiced hard. We don’t have to push guys at practice hard, they know what they’re supposed to do.”

McFarlene knows the best way to build chemistry with his new teammates is through bonding exercises. In his first year, the away trips were what brought them closer together than anything.