Royals women’s basketball achieves dizzying highs
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
It’s hard to find a starting point when looking at the Royals women’s basketball team. Was it Courtney Gerwing’s recruiting drive? She recruited Rachel Beauchamp, Ellen Fallis, Sarah Jorgenson, Adelia Paul, Simran Bir, and the list can go on and on. Was it her leaving and Steve Beauchamp taking over the program and changing how the team played? Was it the team’s late season win against the Capilano Blues? It’s hard to say exactly where this year’s success started, but I can tell you where it didn’t.
The Royals had a bit of a rough start to the year. With Coach Steve Beauchamp coming back to the Royals, the team went through a ton of change, and not all of it was ready for the beginning of the year. The team’s first game against the Capilano Blues was the opposite of perfection. It was a mess. Players lost off the court, defenders unable to find their checks, and players not scoring from anything other than transition was how the team looked at the beginning of the year. But things got better. Things got better real fast.
After a tight win against the VIU Mariners the next week, and a blowout win against the Camosun Charges and CBC Bearcats a little later, the Royals were rolling. They continued to roll along before a blip in the middle of January saw the team take tough losses to the Capilano Blues and VIU Mariners. After that, the team put their noses to the grindstone and put in work. The next time the Blues and Royals met, it was the Royals coming away with the win in a very playoff-esque match.
Their winning ways continued into the playoffs. They faced the VIU Mariners in the semi-finals, and the Royals could not be fazed. The Mariners really didn’t even come close to winning, as the Royals dismantled them. Waiting for them in the finals was the Capilano Blues. With the entire season leading up to this game, it was no surprise that the nerves were on when it came game time. But the Royals’ recent form was too much for the Blues, and for the first time in 23 years, the Royals captured the PACWEST Championship Gold medal.
With the gold came a ticket to the CCAA National Championships at NAIT College in Northern Alberta. The team went into the tournament ranked sixth, and faced off against a strong Lethbridge Kodiak team. Unfortunately, the Royals were trounced. It was an unbelievably tough result, but the team needed to recover for the bronze medal qualifiers against the MSVU Mystics the next day. The Mystics battled hard, but the Royals fought harder and came out with the win.
Up next were the NAIT Ooks, the hosts of the tournament and eighth seed. But the Ooks played far better than the eighth seed should play. They came back after going down around half time, and ended the Royals’ National tournament with a loss. The Royals finished the tournament in fifth/sixth place. Although the finish wasn’t the goal the team had in mind, they can take pride in the fact that they got there. The first PACWEST gold in 23 years is no small accomplishment. The team had what it took to succeed in the PACWEST. It just so happened that the National stage was just a step above them. But the tough National result for the Royals is just a stepping stone for the team. I’m sure that the squad will be able to build off of their successes this year, and apply it to next year.
Speaking of success, the Royals had quite a bit of it on the individual level. Ellen Fallis and Sarah Jorgenson picked up Second Team All-Star nods and were rewarded for their efforts during the season. Rachel Beauchamp picked up a First Team All-Star award as well as a CCAA All-Canadian Award for her amazing performance this season. She also picked up a CCAA National Tournament Second Team All-Star. She didn’t win the PACWEST Player of the Year Award, though, as it went to Capilano’s Carmelle M’Bikata. Still, I like to think that the Royals and Beauchamp had the last laugh.
So what’s next for the team? Well, besides an offseason for training and celebrating, the team will be looking for some pretty big pieces. Point guard and captain Adelia Paul has played her last year of eligibility in the PACWEST, and her departure leaves a massive hole in the lineup of the Royals. Garaline Tom and Jettie McLaughlin have also reached the end of their career with the Royals, which leaves a pretty big hole in the defence of the Royals.
It’s hard to say who is going to step into the roles left by those big three. It could be anyone on the team. It could be a rookie. It could be a transfer. At this point, I’m not too sure. But the Royals will be back, stronger than ever. Of that I’m sure. This year fifth/sixth, next year, bronze? One can hope.