After a long 21 game PACWEST basketball season, regular season results and standings meant very little as the PACWEST Basketball Provincial Championships got underway at Capilano University this past weekend. The women's team entered the tournament as the third overall seed and the men's team went in with a fourth seed.
On Thursday, the Blues dominated the #6 Camosun Chargers behind the impressive play of Carmel M'Bikata who finished the game with a 20 point, 11 rebound double-double. With the win the Blues moved on to the semi-finals against the #2 Douglas College Royals. After a back and forth game with eight lead changes, the game headed to overtime with the scored tied at 61 apiece. In overtime, Blues guard Sherrie Errico hit a deep three and a great left handed drive which led to a 72-69 defeat of the Royals. Player of the game for the Blues, Ashley De La Cruz Yip was unstoppable in the fourth and ended with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. With the victory, the Blues moved on to Saturday's gold medal match against the #1 VIU Mariners.
The Blues showed no fear against the top-seeded Mariners as they jumped on top 46-37 early in the fourth quarter. However, the Mariners were able to get to the line repeatedly and hit timely shots as they outscored the Blues 28-9 in the final frame to win the PACWEST gold medal and provincial banner with a 65-51 victory. With the loss, the Blues finished off the season with a PACWEST silver medal and Carmel M'Bikata and Ashley De La Cruz Yip were recognized for their excellent play and named to the PACWEST all-tournament team.
Head coach Ramin Sadaghiani was disappointed in losing in the finals but overall very proud of the way his team played throughout the season and in the provincials. "Heading into the tournament, we knew that it would be a battle since we had the difficult side of the draw. Our goal was to peak at the end of the season and we did that by defeating Douglas College, a team that we had not beaten all season. Overall, I'm very happy with the way our team stepped up. We gave it our best effort."
On the men's side, the Blues took on the Royals in the quarterfinals. From the start, the Blues proved to be the superior team behind an impressive 29 point effort by Graddy Zubaidi to an 83-74 win. With the win, the Blues guaranteed themselves a semi-final matchup with the first-placed and undefeated Mariners. The young Blues could not stay with the experienced Mariners and were blown out 87-69. Notable performers for the Blues were Brendan Bailey (21 points) and Chris Loreth (15 points and 7 rebounds) in the loss. Even with the loss, the Blues still had the chance to medal as they moved on to the bronze medal game against the Quest Kermodes on Saturday afternoon.
After being up 67-51 in the third quarter, the Kermodes were able to fight back and send the game to overtime, all tied up at 82. The blues jumped out in overtime to take an early lead but the Kermordes' Theo VandenEkart hit a huge three and drove the lane to get fouled with under 40 seconds to play to give the Kermodes their first lead of the game 91-90. The Blues missed on the last chance heave as the Kermodes won 93-90.
Head coach Cassidy Kannemeyer was ecstatic with his young teams' effort, "I was really proud of the way we battled. Everybody gave their best and we didn't leave anything on floor; we put ourselves in a great position to win. I hope we are able to learn from this and use it as motivation the next time we compete in a medal game."