Women’s basketball returns for more
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
Everyone remembers last year’s PACWEST provincial tournament. For many of the players, it echoes in their minds like a distant train. Upset not once, but twice in the same weekend. They went from tournament title contenders to fourth place finishers. It stung for everyone. This year, they have a chance to make it right.
The team continued to dominate the regular season, albeit with a very different looking team. Gone was Nanaya Miki, who had been such a scoring staple for the Royals. But now there are Ellen Fallis and Sarah Jorgenson. Even more so, this year has to be the year of the Beauchamp. In his first year back in the PACWEST, Steve Beauchamp has found a way to reinvent the dominant Royals team from last year, and make them better. And at the centre of this new team is Rachel Beauchamp. A monster in every sense, Rachel has dominated the league this year. She’s a guaranteed All-Star, and should be in the conversations for Player of the Year. She averages a double-double, and she’s the only player in the league to do so, in fact.
Needless to say, the Royals are a powerhouse this year. With the number two seed, they claim a first-round bye and await the winner of the Langara and VIU match. As talented as Langara is, VIU have Sienna Pollard, who is in every aspect an All-Star. Langara probably won’t be able to stop her, but the Royals can and have before.
Against VIU, the Royals have a record of 2–1, besting them by nearly 20 points in their last meeting. They also kept Pollard to just 11 points and 9 rebounds. After that, there really isn’t much to VIU. Without their star, they sort of fall apart. Harsh, but true. I can see the Royals bumping the Mariners and moving to the finals.
Speaking of which, I’m not even going to debate who will be waiting. It’s going to be the Capilano Blues. No offence to the Quest Kermodes and the Camosun Chargers, but the Blues are the better team. Although the last time the Blues lost was to the Chargers, and it was handily, I still stand by my belief that the Blues will be there, waiting for the Royals.
Now this is going to be a heck of a game. Every time the Royals and the Blues have danced, it’s been a quality game. With both teams being defence-first, their matches haven’t always been the highest scoring games, but they have always been battles. The Royals have a record of 1–2 against the Blues, but they were the team to hand the Blues their first defeat. Since then, only the Chargers have beaten the Blues, which means that the Capilano squad is on the downwards trend.
However, the Royals know they have to be cautious. The combination of Ashley De La Cruz Yip and Carmelle M’Bikata has been the sword that has struck down every team in the PACWEST this year. To leave them unguarded is to give the Blues an empty court. But when the Yip-M’Bikata connection has failed the Blues, Yip has gone to every other Blues player on the court and made them a scorer. With three scorers in the top 10 average points per game, and each of them averaging more than 10 points, it’s going to be a challenge finding out how to guard against them all.
But that just might be the Blues’ undoing. If the Blues pour too much into their offence, you can bet the Royals will tear them apart. It’s been proven that you need at least two people to guard Rachel Beauchamp efficiently, and even then she’ll net 14 points. But to guard the rest of the team is going to be difficult for the Blues. No doubt, Steve Beauchamp will be relying heavily on his two-way players. Amber Beasley is a player who comes to mind. Her ability to guard has been unprecedented this season, and her shooting has just gotten hot. If the Blues aren’t careful, she’ll drop a three and be back in time to steal the ball from her check on the transition.
I’m going to make a bold prediction here. Royals will win gold this year. They beat the Capilano Blues by 10 or fewer points. That’s the feeling I get when I look at these two teams. Let’s see if I’m wrong!