Kwanlten’s rookie guard Obi Udevi was one of the lone bright spots for Kwantlen on Saturday against Douglas. – Brian Jones Photo
This past weekend was devoid of upsets and surprises around the PacWest, as the giants still stand tall, but the race for fifth place is heating up.
The top half of this week’s rankings remains unchanged, as Vancouver Island University Mariners and Langara College Falcons both swept their respective doubleheaders, while the Quest University Kermodes and Capilano University Blues each split their island road trip.
VIU is still the only undefeated team in the PacWest after picking up a 76-65 win over Quest on Friday then drumming Cap 80-58 on Saturday.
Langara easily handled the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Eagles and Columbia Bible College Bearcats, breaking the triple-digit mark in both bouts and averaging a 47-point margin of victory over the weekend. The Falcons’ loss in Week 2 to Quest may have been exactly what they needed, because adding a tally to Langara’s loss column is like trying to put out a house fire with gasoline.
Falcons forward Elliot Mason looks to break ankles out on the wing. – Brian Jones Photo
Capilano head coach Dwayne Selby summed up the crazy finishes and surprising blowouts around the PacWest this past weekend:
“There’s a lot of parity in the league right now. Our league is up for grabs, and I told my guys that if you don’t show up to play every single night, anyone can beat you.”
Selby’s words have been identical to what almost every other coach in the league has been preaching since preseason.
VIU is the only squad still standing with an unblemished record, but they’ve been lobbed softballs thus far, beating Camosun, Kwantlen and CBC (the bottom three teams in the league) by an average of 25.7 points. The Mariners will face their biggest challenge when they host Quest and Capilano next weekend.
Langara centre Jitinder Lohcham attacks inside. Lohcham finished the night with 25 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. – Brian Jones Photo
During the halftime break of last night’s game between Langara and Capilano, I walked out of the gym and down the corridor of Capilano’s Sportsplex to the washroom. As I made my way past Langara’s team room, I noticed the entire roster of players sitting on chairs in a semi-circle facing a wall, as if attentively listening to a lecture.
At first, I assumed that head coach Paul Eberhardt was going over what needed work as they headed into the second half with a marginal 43-39 lead over Capilano, but when I turned back to look in the gym, I saw Eberhardt and his assistants gathered back at the team’s bench, going over the stat sheet and relevant clipboards.
It wasn’t a coach that had the player’s attention in the team room – it was an orange jersey-ed Falcon. I couldn’t quite see who was talking, as my view was obstructed by the poster-plastered windows, but Eberhardt had a pretty good clue.
“I would expect [Glenn] Ruby to be the voice in the room, I would expect him to stand up at that time,” said Eberhardt. “But it’s been really interesting this year, as I’ve noticed that all of the veterans are doing of teaching with our younger guys. Last year it was irritating because I didn’t think they talked enough. But they’ve definitely embraced that this year.”
Whether it was the third-year utility player from Clayton Heights leading the halftime pep-talk or not, whatever was said certainly carried over into the second half.
Brody Greig – perhaps the most entertaining player to watch in the PacWest – puts up his patented floater over Harp Randhawa during last season’s provincial tournament. – Brian Jones Photo
Regular-season record: 20-1
Provincial tournament: Gold medallists
National tournament: Bronze medallists
Key returning players:
Brody Greig (4th year)
Jitt Lohcham (4th year)
Elliot Mason (4th year)
Glen Ruby (4rd year)
Garrett Ling-Lee (4th year)
Daniel Hobden (4th year)
Matt Madewan (4th year)
Martin Appiah (2nd year)
Manpreet Parmar (2nd year)
Max Neumann (1st year –University of Alberta red shirt in ’12-’13)
Daniel Kim (2nd year – Douglas College)
Jesse Jeffers (Trinity Western University)
Devin McMurtry (University of Northern British Columbia)
Jeff Chu (University of Northern British Columbia)
Jamie Madewan (R.C. Palmer Secondary)
Jesse Mushiana (Winston Churchill Secondary)
Devante Williams (Northview Heights – Toronto)
Nick Jhauj (Red shirt – Enver Creek Secondary)
There’s been an emerging theme so far in the PacWest; forget the past, and this is a whole new season.
No such words of wisdom are more true for the Langara Falcons – who look to put their nearly-flawless season in the rearview as they gear up for another run at the provincial and national titles.
In 2012-13, the Falcons lost just one regular season matchup – a 102-100 loss to CBC that ended with Bearcats guard Kevin Ford banking in a three with just 1.8 seconds left in regulation. Before that CBC game, Langara began the season with 12-straight wins, and rattled off another 11 victories thereafter – a streak that stretched from January 25 to March 14, included a PacWest provincial title, as well as an opening-round win at nationals.
But then the wheels fell off an almost-perfect crafted vehicle, as PEI’s Holland College upset the surging Falcons in the national semifinals. Not quite ready to throw away everything they had worked towards, Langara battled back the next day, beating Red Deer and Sheridan to claim bronze.
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.”
Eagles centre Ali Bosir is wrapped up by Falcons forward Garrett Ling-Lee on his way to what would have been a huge two-handed cram. – Brian Jones Photo
Overmatched at the worst possible time of the season, Kwantlen couldn’t keep up with the nationally-ranked Langara Falcons, losing 100-75 Friday night at home.
Guard Jeff Chu paced the Falcons with 22 points, while forward Jesse Jeffers dropped 18 points and grabbed 7 boards.
However the most impressive line of the night comes from point guard Brody Greig, who tallied the strangest near-quadruple double I’ve ever seen, going for 13 assists, nine steals, eight rebounds and seven points.
Kwantlen’s man in the middle, Ali Bosir, racked up 16 points and 16 rebounds, while forward Tristan Gruenthaler finally showed what he’s capable of offensively, scoring 19 points and ripping down 13 boards – unfortunately those numbers came at a price of seven turnovers from the 6-foot-6 Yale Secondary grad.
Usually on a night where Kwantlen sticks around early in the game, like they did in the first quarter of last night’s match – trailing only 21-20 at the first break – I would cite their late-game inconsistency as the roots of their perils.
But to say that they’re inconsistent would be a lie. They consistently melt down in the latter half of most games after seemingly-strong starts. They consistently shoot the ball poorly in the third and fourth quarters. And they consistently rack up losses when they have the ability to win.