The hottest of starts

Photo by Davie Wong
Photo by Davie Wong

Women’s basketball stuns PACWEST

By Davie Wong, Sports Editor

If you had said the Douglas College Royals women’s basketball team coming into the 2016–17 campaign was going to be one of the hottest teams headed into semester break, I may have had flashbacks to last year’s regular season legends. However, I would also remember the team’s heartbreaking playoff showing.

This year, the Royals are headed into the semester break with a record of 5–1. While the record is reminiscent of last year’s team headed into the break, it happens to be one of the few numbers that do match. But before we go into depth with numbers, let’s look at how the team got here.

The women started off their season at home against the Capilano Blues. Their performance was quite indicative of a team still trying to play a new style under a new head coach. They struggled against the Blues, and despite a standout performance from Rachel Beauchamp and Ellen Fallis, the team dropped their home opener and started a season with a loss.

The week after saw the team travel over to the islands to take on the defending PACWEST Provincial Champions, the VIU Mariners, as well as the Camosun Chargers. Another big game from Ellen Fallis, and Rachel Beauchamp gave the team the push they needed to overtake the Mariners. The next day against the Chargers, Sarah Jorgenson went off. Scoring 23 points in 18 minutes, Jorgenson was one of the four on her team to light up the scoresheet.

Week three of action let the Royals come home to tend to their visitors from Columbia Bible College. They treated their home crowd to a gem, giving them a cushy 61 point differential win. Simran Bir had a huge game for the team, grabbing 21 points and 21 minutes during the heavily rotated game.

The last week of the first semester saw the Royals take on the Langara Falcons and the Quest Kermodes in back to back games. In a tight game against the Langara Falcons, it took a fourth quarter outburst to give the Royals their fourth win in a row. Yet another huge game from Rachel Beauchamp was the catalyst for her team’s ability to pull away in the fourth quarter. But her best game this season wasn’t even in the books yet.

In the last game of the semester, the Royals pulled out a thrilling one-point win over the Quest Kermodes. At the end of 4 periods of play, Rachel Beauchamp had a massive 28 points and 10 rebounds. The win bumped them to 5–1 to start the season headed into the break.

In terms of individual performances throughout the first half of the season, one name you probably read a lot was Rachel Beauchamp. That was because she’s had an absolutely phenomenal start to her year. To give you a good idea, here are just some of her numbers: 96 total points (1st in the PACWEST), 16 points a game (1st in the PACWEST), 13 blocks (1st in the PACWEST), 22 steals (1st in the PACWEST), 69 total rebounds (1st in the PACWEST), and 11.5 rebounds a game (1st in the PACWEST). Beauchamp averages a double-double, of which she has five. That is complete insanity.

But she doesn’t do it alone. Beauchamp has the support of her many teammates, and the team’s depth of scoring has really allowed her to have the freedom to do what she does. Scoring from Ellen Fallis, Simran Bir, and Sarah Jorgenson has aided the Royals cause, and really shows how comprehensive this new Royals squad is. Fallis has been the favourite for the starting team due to her ability to play the transition game very well. But the team has shown the ability to score in different situations. When they need to play hard ball, Coach Steve Beauchamp knows he can turn to Sarah Jorgenson to put up the big numbers on the mismatch. When they need a shooter, he knows that he can put in Simran Bir and get an immediate reply.

Players I haven’t mentioned but are just a key are the utility players on the court for the Royals. They just so happen to also be leaders. Adelia Paul and Amber Beasley play big minutes for the Royals, and are on court leaders. Both of them spend their time setting up plays for the team. Adelia has 19 assists on the season, good enough for 3rd best in the league, and Beasley has 15, which is good enough for 10th best in the league. The two also know to knock down baskets when the team is in need of a shooting option, with both of them averaging about five points a game.

All of these ingredients come together hand and hand at game time, and has resulted in the team starting off to a massive 5–1 record. As incredible as the players are, some plaudits must be given to the coaches. Steve Beauchamp and Sean Beasley have found a way to improve on the foundation they were given, and transform a shooting-styled team into a transition-styled team that isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas of the court.

There is fear that the team may lose their edge during the break, but the team is filled with veteran stars that know have been through the month-long break before. The players know what they need to do to stay sharp, and if anything, the extra time will allow the team to refine on the finer points of their game, and hammer it down before the second split starts. Like any coach in the PACWEST would know, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish that matters. In a playoff bracket where a single loss could see your entire season slip away, it’s essential that teams are at their peak at the end of the season.