Langara College celebrates its first PacWest provincial title since 1999. – Matt Bossons Photo
On Saturday night, the only thing up for grabs was bragging rights.
Well that, and a provincial gold medal.
Both the Vancouver Island University Mariners and Langara College Falcons had already qualified for CCAA nationals by making it to Saturday’s final. Win or lose, they were both going to get a chance to showcase their talents on the brightest collegiate stage in Canada.
But it was evident that both squads wanted to finish their PacWest campaigns as champs. Whether it was for bragging rights, that gold medal, or the momentum that a conference title gives a team headed to Nat’s, both VIU and Langara didn’t take the task lightly.
Jitinder Lohcham poured in 25 points and led Langara to a 78-74 win over VIU to claim PacWest gold in Victoria at Camosun’s Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.
“You can’t ask for a better final than that,” said Langara head coach Paul Eberhardt after the game, fitted with the winning net around his neck. “A really intense defensive team, which is what we’re going to see from these teams back east – you know, very physical defense – a close game where it came right down to the end. It’s perfect. For both teams, it’ll be a great preparation for nationals.”
Quest’s rookie point guard Denzel Laguerta slices through multiple Camosun defenders on his way to the hoop. – Brian Jones Photo
There’s a routine that PacWest teams are used to when they visit Vancouver Island. They come over on the ferry, play in Victoria on Friday night at 8 pm, and then travel up to Nanaimo the next day to play at 3 pm, or vice-versa.
For the Quest University Kermodes, it was no different at the provincial championships.
On Thursday night, they were pitted against tournament hosts Camosun College in the 8 pm timeslot. The stands were completely packed, but held a surprisingly even amount of fans from both sides. Camosun had a strong contingent of supporters due to the home court advantage, but Quest had a bus full of students and family make the trek over from Squamish.
The game was an anomaly. Incredibly low scoring plagued both squads but the intensity and emotion was unrivaled.
Royals point guard Andrew Baron slashes past Blues forward Sam Zhang during their quarterfinal matchup Thursday, Feb. 28. – Matt Bossons Photo
The Douglas College Royals have a certain piece of equipment that is intended to help them each time they step on the court. It’s not their shoes. It’s not tape or an ankle support. It’s something you can’t see.
A clock. Or more specifically, “The Clock that Rocks.”
“Every arm on the clock refers to a goal that we have,” said Royals head coach Denis Beausoleil. “And one of those arms is mindset. And our mindset going into this game was to stay in the moment. Another arm on the clock that rocks is wherever you are, be there – just staying in the moment. We were confident coming in, we were comfortable, we were relaxed, but the guys really wanted it. And I thought that every one of our guys that got in to the game played well, and I was really happy.”
Last night, the Royals followed this philosophy and hammered the Capilano University Blues 83-65, propelling them to tonight’s PacWest semifinal.
Kwantlen forward Christina Brown drives past Quest guard Shayna Cameron during Thursday’s quarterfinal game on Thursday, Feb. 28. – Matt Bossons Photo.
One down, two to go.
With a 64-48 win over the Quest University Kermodes, the Kwantlen Eagles women have punched a ticket to tonight’s semifinal bout against the top-ranked Capilano University Blues.
But despite getting that first W, no weight or pressure has been lifted off of the Eagles. If anything, the monkey on their back has become a gorilla.
“It’s one game at a time. It’s been our theme this year of not filling in the blank with either we’re gonna win or we’re gonna lose,” said Kwantlen’s head coach Dan Nayebzadeh. “Just go out and play as hard as we can and let the chips fall as they may.”