CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director / Photos Paul Yates, Vancouver Sports Pictures
After a regular season where Capilano University went 16-2 and finished atop the PACWEST standings, four members of the Blues received conference honours on Wednesday, including two of the marquee awards. Carmelle M’Bikata was named PACWEST Player of the Year, head coach Ramin Sadaghiani was voted Coach of the Year, and Sherrie Errico and Ashley De La Cruz Yip received Second Team All-Star honours.
Fourth-year forward Carmelle M’Bikata was named Player of the Year and a First Team All-Star after a dominating year on both ends of the court. A graduate of WJ Mouat Secondary in Abbotsford, she led the conference in scoring with 15.78 points per game, and her 56.3% field goal percentage was the third-best mark in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA). On the defensive end, M’Bikata was sixth in the conference in rebounding with an average of 7.33 per game, and led a Blues defence that allowed just 51.1 points per game – the lowest mark in the entire country.
In the last weekend of the regular season, M’Bikata also became the new all-time leading scorer for Capilano women’s basketball, as she passed former teammate Michelle Errico’s total of 881 and finished with 916 – a per game average of 11.31 over her four years.
"The scouting report on Carmelle out of high school was that she was a player that was very athletic but lacked intensity, work ethic and leadership. Carmelle has proven her critics wrong and has shown that she is exactly the opposite," said head coach Ramin Sadaghiani. "She has shown incredible commitment to improving her skills, bringing consistent energy to the team, and being a leader on and off the court. Although the Player of the Year award is an incredible recognition by the league, I think Carmelle would tell anyone that her biggest accomplishment as a player is being voted as one of our team Captains this season."
A business student at Cap, M’Bikata was a Second Team All-Star last season, and was named to the Provincial Tournament All-Star Team in 2016 – helping the Blues to a silver medal. She is the first women’s basketball Player of the Year from Capilano since Jenna Ralston in 2012.
Taking home Coach of the Year honours for the first time is head coach Ramin Sadaghiani. In his fifth season with Capilano, Sadaghiani led his team to a 13-0 start and finished atop the regular season standings with a 16-2 record. In addition to allowing the fewest points in the CCAA, the Blues also held opponents to the lowest 3-point percentage (19.9%) and fifth-lowest field goal percentage (32.6%). On the offensive end, Capilano averaged 70.6 points per game – the best mark in the PACWEST and sixth-best in the CCAA – aided by 7.8 three-pointers per game (2nd in CCAA) and 15.4 assists per game (4th).
Sadaghiani led Capilano to a silver medal at PACWEST Provincials in 2013 and 2016, and will head into this year’s tournament as the top seed. A long-time coach on the North Shore, he led Handsworth Secondary to AAA Provincial Championships in 2009 and 2010, and has been the Executive Director and Head Coach of the 3D Basketball Academy since 2007.
Also receiving PACWEST honours were Sherrie Errico and Ashley De La Cruz Yip, who were named Second Team All-Stars.
In her second year with the Blues after transferring from the University of Victoria, Errico established herself as arguably the best shooter in the conference. A graduate of Windsor Secondary, Errico drained 58 three-pointers – the third-most in the CCCA – and her 40.6% rate from beyond the arc was the best in the PACWEST. She averaged 13.4 points per game overall, good for sixth in the conference, and chipped in 3.5 rebounds per game as well.
"I have had the privilege to watch Sherrie’s development into a young woman over the last 10 years," said Sadaghiani. "What has impressed me the most about Sherrie is her ability to continue to grow and develop on and off the court each one of those years. Today, her leadership in our locker room and her ability to lead us on the court are things that are invaluable to our women’s basketball program, so she is very deserving of this award.
De La Cruz Yip emerged as a leader on both ends of the court for Capilano, running the point guard position and often marking up against the opponent’s top scorer. A fourth-year point guard from Britannia Secondary in Vancouver, De La Cruz Yip dished out 102 assists in 18 games this season (5.67 average) – 44 more than the next highest total in the PACWEST, and the second-most in the CCAA. She now has the most career assists in Capilano history with a total of 257 in 78 games (3.29 per game average); to put it in perspective, her 102 assists this season alone would put her 12th place on the list.
"What Ashley has done this season at the point guard position and as far as sharing the ball has been incredible to watch.... This selfless attitude and team-first mentality have helped her develop into one of the top point guards in the PACWEST."
Capilano’s post-season gets underway Friday evening at the PACWEST Provincials at Quest University in Squamish. As the tournament’s top seed, Cap receives a bye to the semifinals and will play the winner of the #4 seed Camosun College and #5 seed Langara College game. Tip-off goes at 6:00pm on March 3, and can be viewed on pacwestbc.tv.