Canada West Playoff Results and Predictions

While most basketball fans will be dropping their jaws during the N.B.A. slam-dunk contest tonight, there will be four Canada West quarterfinal games going down across Western Canada, with eight teams vying for just two (possibly three) berths to the CIS Final 8 in March.

Although I will be one of the jaw-droppers tuning in to the N.B.A.’s all-star festivities, I’ll have these four contests playing simultaneously thanks to the accommodating folks at CanadaWest.TV

Here’s a recap or what’s happened already, and predictions for what’s to come:

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Elphinstone Cougars win first North Shore basketball banner in school history

Elphinstone Cougars guard T.J. Turenne tries to break down a New Westminster Hyacks defender during the opening round of the Vancouver and District Championships. - Brian Jones Photo

If you wander through the halls of Elphinstone Secondary, you’ll come upon a trophy case littered with various hardware, plaques and framed photos that tell a rather short story of the school’s past athletic prowess.

Walk in to the gymnasium and direct your eyes just below the yellow and black border that wraps around the beaten white brick walls and you’ll find a few more examples of the scattered success of Elphi’s sports programs.

There are North Shore championship banners for volleyball, mountain biking, golf, cross-country and track and field – but nothing to show for basketball.

Well that all changed last week.

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UNBC ends Kwantlen’s playoff hopes

UNBC forward Dennis Stark maneuvers around Kwantlen’s Ali Bosir, attempting a tough finger roll. Stark had 14 on the night. – Brian Jones Photo

One team, a perennial provincial power, entered the year’s final regular season game with a daunting 12-3 record. They had won a double-overtime game the night before, cementing their second-place spot in the standings and securing an automatic bye for the first round of the approaching playoffs.

The other, a team who won just one league game the previous year, entered the match having won four of their last five. They had two options: win the game in upsetting fashion and clinch the league’s sixth and final playoff spot, or lose, and end their season prematurely.

In a convincing 92-72 victory, the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves reaffirmed their confidence heading into the postseason, while the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles were forced to exercise the undesirable second option.

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UBC rises at right time, defeats Victoria Vikes – Kamar Burke registers monster game

There may not be a better starting lineup in the country.

Credit an early start by Doug Plumb, a late explosion by Nathan Yu, and a dominant effort from Kamar Burke for the UBC Thunderbirds 68-52 win over the University of Victoria Vikes Friday, Feb. 10 at UBC’s War Memorial Gym.

The trio of seniors have at times been able to pull back a little due to the great playing of rookie Malcolm Williams and second-year forward Tommy Nixon, but as the calendar nears March and each game becomes more important than the last, it’s the seniors who are pacing the Thunderbirds.

“That’s just a great team. That’s just what a great team does,” said Yu after the game.

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Kwantlen Eagles look to keep up their winning ways

Kwantlen forward Varinder Singh delivers a floater over a Douglas College defender during the Eagles 80-63 win at home on Friday, Feb. 3. - Brian Jones Photo

The Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles have not been looking like the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles lately.

If that sentence doesn’t make sense, it’s not the only thing.

The Eagles, who started out 2-8 on the season in PacWest play, have won their last four in a row and now sit in sole possession of the league’s sixth and final playoff spot.

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More Important Than Numbers – UBC Head Coach Kevin Hanson Reflects on 300th Win

The UBC bench erupts after a massive slam by Kamar Burke. The Thunderbirds eased to a 77-43 win, head coach Kevin Hanson’s 300th. – Brian Jones Photo

Disregard the score, the potential playoff implications, or the fact that it extended a current win streak to seven games, Friday night ‘s result was sweeter than most.

With a 77-43 win over the UBCO Heat, Kevin Hanson recorded his 300th win as head coach of the UBC Thunderbirds, adding another accolade to a 12-year career that few have matched.

“To be quite honest I really just reflect on some of the great coaches we’ve got,” said Hanson. “And like I said, the legacy I want to leave at UBC is more about how many players we’ve been able to move on and play professionally, and more importantly, give back to basketball and start coaching.”

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Guest coach makes most of UBC basketball experience

Taking a look at the coaches sitting on the UBC’s bench during their 78-48 win over UBCO last Saturday, you’d see a variety of qualified men with experience stemming from the highest levels of basketball.

At the head of the bench, which like every gym nowadays is actually just a line of cushy folding chairs, sits Kevin Hanson, who had just won his 300th game as UBC’s head coach the night before.

Beside him sits Vern Knopp, a former All-Canadian at Douglas College in the early 90′s, in his 12th year as an assistant for the Thunderbirds.

Next to Knopp is Casey Archibald, a former All-Canadian for UBC, in his first year as a full-time assistant. After Archibald, it’s Jamie Oei and Dahman Boudraa, both of whom led Douglas College to a CCAA title in 2008, in their second and fourth years respectively.

But after those five regulars sat a man who had never been on a university basketball coaching  staff, let alone a college coaching staff, and not even a varsity high-school bench.

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