CapU drops back-and-forth battle

Fifth-year forward Denver Sparks-Guest had 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals in his final home game with the Blues. Photo Paul Yates / Vancouver Sports Pictures
Fifth-year forward Denver Sparks-Guest had 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals in his final home game with the Blues. Photo Paul Yates / Vancouver Sports Pictures

CJ Pentland, CapU Sport Information Director

Looking to avenge their loss on Friday, the Capilano University Blues men’s basketball team once again had a come-from-behind victory at their fingertips, but ended up dropping an 84-80 decision to the Okanagan College Coyotes on Saturday afternoon in their final home game of the season.

The result sets up playoff match-up between the two teams, as the #3 seed Blues will face the #6 Coyotes in the first round of the PACWEST Championships in two weeks’ time. After CapU won the first meeting 126-117 back in November, OC won both contests this past weekend to win the season series.

“It’s going to be a great tilt,” said head coach Cassidy Kannemeyer. “They won the season series, and they’re like the antithesis of us: they’re big, they’re strong, and not that we’re not big and strong, they’re just really good at playing tough and being interiorly tough at the bucket, and they changed a lot of shots and made it really tough for us. And we’ll have to figure out a way to beat them, because our press didn’t work, our transition – we had tons of opportunities – it didn’t work, and we need to get down to basics on how to execute in transition. We turned them over 25 times, we outshot them, we had great looks the entire game, but the ball just didn’t go in the hoop.” 

Trailing for much of the second half, the Blues chipped away at their deficit and retook the lead 76-74 with three minutes to play on a Niko Mottus three-pointer. However, they couldn’t extend the lead, and the Coyotes answered back to regain a three-point lead in the final minute. The Blues had two quality chances in the final seconds to tie the game, CapU couldn’t find the late equalizer and OC iced the victory at the free throw line. 

Capilano was again hurt in the paint, as the Coyotes outrebounded the Blues 53-37 and forced them into a 33.8% field goal percentage. The home side won the turnover battle, forcing 25 and committing 13, but they had trouble converting the steals into points. Brenden Bailey had six steals in the contest, and Denver Sparks-Guest and Michael Kelly each had four.

Kelly and Sparks-Guest tied for the team-high in scoring with 19 points apiece, with Kelly also draining five three-pointers. Bailey added 15, and Mottus totalled 10 to go along with seven rebounds, two steals and a block.

Saturday was the final home game for fifth-year forward Sparks-Guest, who has played two seasons with CapU and was honoured before the contest. This year he has set the Capilano Blues men’s basketball single-season record for points with 439 – a record which had been held since 2001 – and in November he set the Blues single-game record for points in a game with 53, which was also the second-most in PACWEST history. Last year was a PACWEST First Team All Star and a CapU Scholar Athlete Honourable Mention.

Sparks-Guest has shot up the Blues men’s basketball career leaderboards, ranking 5th  in points with 773 and 7th in rebounds with 290; over her CapU career he averaged 22.8 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game. Off the court he is a Peer Mentor for his teammates, and this past summer he was a lead instructor at a Blues basketball camp in the Similkameen Valley for First Nations Youth.

Now 10-7, the Blues have one more regular season game on Thursday, February 21 against Columbia Bible College, which is a make-up for the cancelled game on February 10. The PACWEST Championships then get going on February 28 at Douglas College in New Westminster, as the #3 seed Blues will take on the #6 seed Coyotes. Game times and all other tournament info can be found this upcoming week on pacwestbc.ca.