THE Capilano Blues women's basketball team continued their sizzling start to the season with a victory over Columbia Bible College Saturday night but the celebration was muted by an injury to an emerging star.
Through the team's first three games - all wins - second year forward Hayley Boulier established herself as one of the Pacwest league's dominant post players, averaging 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Against CBC on Saturday the six-foot-one Windsor secondary grad was all over the court, making steals to spark fast breaks, sealing defenders to score easy hoops and dominating the glass.
On one play late in the third quarter she showed her athleticism, sprinting ahead of the pack on a fast break, catching a lobbed pass at full speed and twisting to lay it in with a deft touch. In just 18 minutes of play she collected 14 points on six for eight shooting, adding six rebounds and four steals.
With 4: 57 left in the fourth quarter, however, the Capilano season turned on a play all too familiar to people who watch a lot of women's basketball. Fighting for a rebound in traffic, Boulier jumped and then crashed to the ground with a heartbreaking scream. The silence that fell in the Capilano Sportsplex was broken only by her sobs and a cry of "Oh my knee." Boulier was helped off the court to await an ambulance and the game finished as a 6132 win for the Blues.
After the game Capilano's rookie head coach Ramin Sadaghiani, who spent several minutes on the floor comforting Boulier before emergency personnel arrived, described what went through his mind when he saw the play unfold just a few metres from the Capilano bench.
"Obviously I'm worried about the player, because it kind of sucks," he said. "Our girls, we do have a tight team so obviously our girls are worried about her. My initial thought is just how is she doing."
From there, however, it was back to the reality of a long season ahead with his current leading scorer and rebounder potentially sidelined.
"Injuries are kind of part of the game and other people are going to have to step up if there are injuries," he said, adding that last year when he was an assistant with the University of British Columbia's women's team they lost four players to ACL injuries. Boulier is scheduled to see a sports doctor this week.
"It happens, especially in women's basketball. One thing that we have been talking about is the amount of depth that we have on our team. If Hayley is injured or out for a number of games, I think there are players that can step up and fill in. Obviously it's a tough loss."
Two familiar North Shore names may be called upon to fill the void but both also come with injury histories. Windsor grad Gabby Koc-Spadero is in her second year with the Blues and back on the floor after her rookie year was cut short by a season-ending injury.
Carson Graham grad Lauren Seabrook played CIS ball with Western in 2010-11 but a back injury she sustained in a car accident sidelined her all of last season and she's returned home to get back into the game with the Blues.
"We weren't really expecting her back until January so she's a bit ahead of schedule," Sadaghiani said of Seabrook. "We're easing her in. If Hayley is out, her minutes are probably going to increase quite a bit."
The Blues are the only team without a loss in early-season play and whether they have Boulier or not they're going to keep doing what they're doing and hopefully get better at it, said Sadaghiani.
"I don't think we really have to change the game plan, it's just a matter of coming together as a team and bouncing back and just keep going and doing things that we've been working on," he said, adding that he's confident his team has the depth to maintain their early season success. On Saturday all 12 players on the team played at least 10 minutes against CBC.
"It's early so you still haven't established all the roles and you want everybody to get accustomed to the system and stuff like that," he said. "Obviously roles are going to get determined as the season goes but right now we're getting everybody in, getting everybody out, keeping our legs fresh. I think we do have 12 players on the team that can play."
The Blues will be back at it with a pair of home games this weekend. On Friday Camosun will visit the Capilano Sportsplex with the women playing at 6 p.m. followed by the men at 8 p.m. On Saturday Vancouver Island University will visit with game times of 1 p.m. for the women and 3 p.m. for the men.