The Capilano Blues were just a couple of baskets away from a golden repeat and trip to nationals at the PacWest women’s basketball championships which wrapped up Saturday at Douglas College.
With a large Capilano cheering section in attendance, the Blues overcame an early deficit and took the lead heading into the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold off the Vancouver Island University Mariners, who took the title with an 82-77 win.
The Blues were playing in their fourth straight provincial final, having claimed silver in 2016 and 2017 before bumping up to gold last year. Ranked No. 2 heading into this year’s PacWest championships, the Blues earned a ticket to the final with an 84-64 semifinal win over Camosun College.
No. 1-ranked VIU, however, played like top seeds early in the final, taking a 40-30 lead into the halftime break.
“We didn’t particularly come out well in the first half – I don’t know if we were a little bit tight or a bit nervous or what it was – but VIU was well-rested and is a deep team with good coaching,” Capilano head coach Chris Weimer stated in a release. “Luckily for us they didn’t shoot the ball that well in the first quarter … so I told the girls at halftime we were lucky to be down by 10. I told them we needed to turn things around and start from scratch.”
The Blues got the message, as they came out on fire in the third quarter. An 11-0 run to open the second half gave the Blues the lead, with sharpshooter Reiko Ohama dropping a pair of three pointers during the Blues breakout. Capilano outscored VIU 30-15 in the third quarter, although the Mariners got a major momentum boost by hitting a half-court buzzer beater to cut the deficit down to five heading into the final frame.
The Mariners rode that wave on an 18-4 run to start the fourth quarter, grabbing a nine-point lead with five minutes to go. The Blues battled all the way to the end, cutting the deficit to just one with less than a minute left in the game, but VIU held on to claim gold and the conference’s sole berth in the CCAA national championship tournament.
This was the first season as head coach for Weimer, who spent the previous six years as an assistant coach with the Blues. The silver medal finish exceeded all his expectations, he said – when he inherited the team last April there were only five players committed for the season.
“At the start of the season if you told me we’d be playing for gold I’d have laughed at you,” he said. “Looking back on it now we have to keep our heads up; there’s nothing to be disappointed about with how things turned out. We had a great season, and after the Christmas break we were on fire, and we came pretty close.”
The Blues, in fact, won 10 straight games to end the season, including a road win at VIU, before losing to the Mariners in Saturday’s final.
Ohama was named Capilano’s player of the game after scoring 21 points in the final, shooting 7-15 from the floor while making five of her 11 three-point attempts to go with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. Sherrie Errico, a fifth-year Windsor Secondary grad playing her final game with the Blues, also had a monster game with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Errico was even better in the semifinal, just missing a triple double with 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Both Errico and Ohama were named to the tournament all-star team.
For the season Ohama was a PacWest first-team all-star while Errico and second-year forward Mackenzie Smith both earned second-team all-star nods.
First-year forward Alessia Brutto, who notched 16 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the final, was named the PacWest Rookie of the Year award as well as a spot on the all-rookie team.