Kwantlen Eagles fall a game short

Haeley Williams (right) of the Kwantlen Eagles tries to stop a Vancouver Island University Mariners opponent from going to the basket during a PACWEST game Saturday in Nanaimo. - BLACK PRESS
Haeley Williams (right) of the Kwantlen Eagles tries to stop a Vancouver Island University Mariners opponent from going to the basket during a PACWEST game Saturday in Nanaimo.
— image credit: BLACK PRESS

Although the Kwantlen Eagles men’s basketball team had a chance to advance to the postseason with a win Saturday in Nanaimo, the opposition proved too difficult.

The Eagles fell 103-68 to the Vancouver Island (VIU) Mariners, and with a 7-14 (won-lost) record in PACWEST (Pacific Western Athletic Association) play, finished one game behind a trio of teams in a race for the final three playoff positions.

Kwantlen went into the weekend needing two wins on Vancouver Island, and although they did get a victory Friday in Victoria with an 83-76 overtime decision over the Camosun Chargers, the second-place Mariners proved to be too much of a challenge.

“I really liked the focus we had going on the island trip,” said Eagles head coach Stefon Wilson. “We knew we had to win both games to receive a playoff berth. We had a good team win on Friday night, but we ran up against a really good team in VIU on Saturday.”

With the season on the line Friday, the Eagles fell behind by 10 points to Camosun by halftime, but erased the deficit in the third quarter. They played the home side even in the fourth period, then dominated overtime for the victory.

Aaron Ram with 27 points and four rebounds and Jagbir Takhar with 21 points and five rebounds led the Eagles. Ali Bosir scored 17 points to go with 13 rebounds, while Tristan Gruenthaler just missed the double double with 13 points and nine rebounds.

Playing against the fifth-ranked team in the country Saturday, Kwantlen fell behind 51-27 by half time and never recovered. Ram with 18 points, Bosir with 13 and Takhar with 11 paced the Eagles offense.

While the men are looking forward to next season, the Kwantlen Eagles women’s team will be taking a return trip to Vancouver Island Feb. 28 to March 2 for the provincial championships in Victoria.

The Eagles had already clinched a playoff berth before the final weekend of the season, but a split confirmed a fifth-place finish with a 10-11 record.

Kwantlen completed a season sweep of the Camosun Chargers Friday night, outscoring the opposition in all four quarters on their way to a 61-47 victory.

Sara Kurath with 13 points led the Eagles. Jessica Villadiego and Jeanneine Yngresso, teammates three years ago with the Holy Cross Crusaders high school team, scored 11 points apiece. Amber-Lee Kananagh led all rebounders with eight.

“We played hard and with intensity right from the start,” said head coach Dan Nayebzadeh. “We won all four quarters on the scoreboard and did a great job overall defensively. It was a complete team effort and a great win for the team as we head into the playoff season.”

Saturday in Nanaimo against the second-place Mariners, the Eagles were outgunned 72-38.

“We were drained from the game against Camosun, and came out flat,” said Nayebzadeh. “We had an emotional and physical letdown and they were just the better team today.”

Samantha McPhail’s 13 rebounds was the lone bright spot for Kwantlen, who failed to have a player score in double digits.

Kwantlen will make their fifth appearance at the provincials in the program’s 12-year history Feb. 28 when they tip-off against the fourth-place Quest Kermodes (13-8). Kwantlen lost the first meeting of the season Nov. 19 in Squamish by a 71-57 score. The Eagles then topped Quest 78-65 and 83-79 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

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