Blues women’s basketball team puts up valiant effort at CCAA nationals

Almost a storybook ending

Blues women’s basketball team puts up valiant effort at CCAA national championship tournament

JUSTIN SCOTT// MANAGING EDITOR

Having achieved their goal of winning the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST)’s playoffs and advancing to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA)’s national tournament at last, the Capilano Blues women’s basketball team represented BC well.

Their first game of the tournament was against Westmount, Quebec’s Dawson College and was dubbed the Battle of the Blues as both schools compete under the same name. Dawson College entered the game under the CCAA Coach of the Year Trevor Williams and with a noticeably bigger lineup.

However, after a shaky start, Capilano showed why they were at the national tournament. Although they had ended the first quarter down seven points, spurred on by the play of CCAA Second Team All-Star Ashley dela Cruz Yip, by halftime they were up five points with a lead of 37-32. “We all really came together and brought the energy that we’ve shown at Cap before, and showed the rest of the country that we can play,” explained PACWEST All-Rookie Team member MacKenzie Smith.

Capilano came out gunning right away in the second half and by the end of the third quarter, they were up 10 points. Knowing that Dawson would inevitably make a push, the team rallied together. “We always knew that body language was so important,” Smith said. “So, to keep our body language up and to keep encouraging each other like we’ve always done really helped us stay in that game.”

As Dawson closed the lead and eventually regained it for themselves with under three minutes left in the game, the teams traded baskets until the end of regulation time where they were tied at 63. Unfortunately for Capilano, Dawson carried their momentum over into the extra frame and won the game. “It was a heartbreaker to go to overtime and then just miss it by five points,” Smith admitted.

However, even though they no longer had a shot at a national title, the Capilano Blues had showed the nation how strong they were – which they would continue to exhibit in their next game against the Medicine Hat College Rattlers, winning 76-64. “It went really well,” Smith said. “We played as a team and just really stuck to our game plan that Ramin put in place.” By the team’s third and final game though, the three-day tournament had taken a tole. “We were kind of out of gas but we still wanted to give it our all,” Smith said. There just wasn’t enough gas left though as the Blues fell 67-83 to the Collège Montmorency Les Nomades, who went on to win the bronze medal.

All in all, the team sees the tournament as a success. Their goal had always been to win the PACWEST and make it to the national tournament, and they did. And while this was the last shot for many on the team, Smith saw the team achieve their goal during her first year on the squad. “It was definitely a surreal first year,” she said. “I never imagined it could happen, but obviously we wanted it to.”

With the season now over, focus has shifted to next season, which will look very different. Last week the team’s Head Coach Ramin Sadaghiani announced that after a storied and successful tenure at his position, which he’s held since 2012, he wouldn’t be returning next year. Additionally, the team will be losing much of its core with fifth years dela Cruz Yip, Carmelle M’Bikata and Francis Penafiel all coming out of their last year of eligibility and guard Emma Cunningham also leaving.

The hope now is that the younger players can retain the lessons they learned from their time as Blues and begin a new chapter of success in the women’s basketball history book.

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