VIU escapes Douglas with tough win, remains undefeated

VIU’s Brandon Jones had on off-night against Douglas, but still led all scorers with 19 points. - Brian Jones photo

VIU’s Brandon Jones had on off-night against Douglas, but still led all scorers with 19 points. In the throwback above, Jones goes to the bucket during the 2012 PacWest championship semifinals. – Brian Jones photo

The Vancouver Island University Mariners had everything to lose on Friday night.

They had an undefeated record. They presented perfection dating back to last season’s national title. They came in ranked third in the CCAA’s national rankings. And, they had something a little more tangible to lose – their pride and confidence.

But it’s those last two that mattered most. Those two crucial facets of VIU’s identity, the building blocks of their genetic makeup that make them so good in the first place, were what helped them walk out of their battle with the Douglas College Royals not quite unscathed, but still undefeated.

VIU left New Westminster with an 83-79 win over Douglas last night, though the outcome was in question up until roughly 19 seconds left in the game.

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PacWest Week 3 Power Rankings

Kwanlten’s rookie guard Obi Udevi was one of the lone bright spots for Kwantlen on Saturday against Douglas. - Brian Jones Photo

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.

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PacWest Week 2 Power Rankings

Falcons forward Elliot Mason looks to break ankles out on the wing. - Brian Jones Photo

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.

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Capilano holds off late charge to squeeze by Douglas

Blues point guard Tony Rowe adjusts under the outstretched arm of Douglas forward Ryan Hopson. - Brian Jones Photo

Blues point guard Tony Rowe adjusts under the outstretched arm of Douglas forward Ryan Hopson. – Brian Jones Photo

The mood was subdued, a few heads were hanging, and customary post-game handshakes were scaled back to a minimum.

Based on the player reactions, if you hadn’t watched the previous 40 minutes of gameplay, you would have never guessed who just suppressed a massive comeback to grind out a four-point victory.

Although a win is a win, some taste a little less sweet than others.

The Capilano University Blues clung to the last remnants of 17-point halftime lead to hold off the Douglas College Royals 76-72 on Saturday, November 9 at Capilano’s Sportsplex in North Vancouver.

The coach echoed his players’ temperament.

“I was really disappointed. I thought we had taken some good steps last night, in terms of learning how to play with a more consistent effort, but I think we regressed tonight,” said Blues bench boss Dwayne Selby.

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PacWest Preview: Douglas College Royals

Andrew Baron leads a young group of Royals into 2013-14.  - Brian Jones Photo

Andrew Baron leads a young group of Royals into 2013-14. – Brian Jones Photo

Regular-season record: 8-13

Provincial tournament: 4th place

Key returning players:

  • Andrew Baron (3rd year)
  • Kristian Hildenbrandt (2nd year)
  • Ethan McKean (2nd year)
  • Tom Ghag (2nd year)
  • Mike Blaauw (2nd year)

Key losses:

  • Mark Dabrowski
  • Devan Haynes (Kwantlen)
  • Dustin Egelstad (Kwantlen)
  • Harpreet Randhawa
  • Daniel Kim (Langara)

Rookies:

  • Grant Campbell
  • Sylvester Appiah
  • Bradyn Norris
  • Akim Zongo
  • Jacob Juras
  • Harbir Phool
  • Karun Samra
  • Pavan Leeho

It’s not too hard to think back and reminisce about the year 2008.

Kanye West was beginning his affinity with auto-tune, Obama was beginning his first term as POTUS, the one kid in your school with an iPhone 3G was a king, and the Douglas College Royals had just finished putting together one of the most dominant seasons in CCAA history.

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Douglas moves on to PacWest semifinals

Royals point guard Andrew Baron slashes past Blues forward Sam Zhang during their quarterfinal matchup Thursday, Feb. 28. - Matt Bossons Photo

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.

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Royals beat number-four ranked team in the country

Royals forward Malcolm Mensah floats one over VIU defender Jacob Thom during Douglas' 84-68 win over the Mariners Friday night. - Brian Jones Photo

You could have called it David versus Goliath, a Hoosiers remake, or whatever other overused underdog cliché you want.

Led by third-year forward Ravi Athwal and fourth-year UNBC transfer Harmeet Mahal, the Douglas College Royals upset the Vancouver Island University Mariners 84-68 Friday night at Douglas’ New Westminster campus.

The only problem with calling it an upset? Neither of the teams involved thought of it that way.

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