Royals men’s basketball fight to a bronze
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
If ever you want to enter the playoffs, you want to do it hot. The Royals did just that. They came into the PACWEST Provincial Championship having won five out of their last six games. The late season push gave then just enough points to finish fourth, while also prepping them for the playoffs.
The team would need it, too. Their first opponent was going to be a doozy. It was the host, the Quest Kermodes, waiting for them in the quarter-finals, and Quest brought the crowd with them. Although the Kermodes were the fifth seed, they were arguably favourites for the game. However, the Royals never even let it get there.
Several times in the first quarter, the Kermodes were able to tie the Royals, but could never grab the lead. By the slimmest of margins, the Royals squeezed out a lead going into half time. Determined to lose, the Kermodes kept up with the Royals in the third, but again, couldn’t catch them. In a desperate fourth quarter effort, the Kermodes gave it all they had, and even then the Royals managed to come out ahead, 86–80.
The Royals had some fantastic performances in the quarter-final matchup. Grant Campbell had 24 points and Malcolm Mensah had 16, combining for nearly half the teams points. But it was Reese Morris who was the difference maker. He picked up 26 points and 16 rebounds for the double double and the Player of the Game award.
The next match was the one everyone was dreading the most. The VIU Mariners. To say the Royals were underdogs in this matchup would be exaggerating. While their odds certainly weren’t 5000–1, it was pretty close to it. For pretty good reason, too. Nonetheless, the Royals were able to keep themselves in the game—for a while, at least.
The first couple of quarters were close. The Douglas squad managed to grab the lead once before losing it again later. But it wasn’t the players that told the story this game. It was the refs. The Royals managed to get a pretty high foul total racked up on both Malcolm Mensah and Grant Campbell, and that fired up head coach Joe Enevoldson. Apparently it was too hot for the refs, who handed Enevoldson a technical.
The warning made sense, but the technical was questionable. So you can guess how I felt when the refs gave him the second technical and ejected him from the gym. I mean, ejections aren’t unheard of, especially in intense situations. But ejecting a coach during a do-or-die playoff match when his team is barely trailing? It was frustrating, to say the least.
The Royals responded well to their coach’s sacrifice, and went on a run. But that only lasted a few buckets. After the adrenaline blew off, it was open season for the Mariners shooters. The Royals stayed in it as long as they could, and even managed to outscore the Mariners in the fourth, but it was too much. The Royals would take the loss 86–71 and move on to the Bronze medal match.
Awaiting them, to their and their opponent’s surprise, were the second-seeded Langara Falcons. Having been upset by the Capilano Blues, the Falcons were still reeling from the loss. And the Royals could see it. They managed to exploit their dreary-eyed opponents and grab the point lead to close out the first quarter.
The Falcons showed signs of life in the second, outscoring the Royals by one point. But it wasn’t quite enough. The Royals came out of their halftime locker room with a pair of shears, and clipped the Falcons. Everything just came apart for the Langara squad in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t quite a blowout, but the Falcons weren’t close. The Royals would win PACWEST Bronze on the back of an 83–71 win.
Grant Campbell lit up the scoreboard, dropping 18 points, picking up 7 rebounds, and looking like Swiper with 7 steals. In their final game in a Royals jersey, Sheldon Derton had 17 points and 6 rebounds, while Malcolm Mensah had 13 points and 10 rebounds, picking up the double double. Reese Morris was dominant on the court once again, scoring 22 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. He was named Player of the Game for the second time in the tournament. At the end of the tournament, Morris and Campbell were named Tournament All-Stars.