Capilano University's Denver Sparks-Guest drops 53 in tough PacWest win

Blues beat Okanagan College 126-117 in high-scoring thriller

He doesn’t recall flames shooting out of his fingers, or getting into a trance-like “zone,” or the announcer screaming out the famous video game catch phrase “he’s on fire!”  

But when the final buzzer sounded and Denver Sparks-Guest checked the scoresheet for the thrilling 126-117 PacWest men’s basketball win for his Capilano Blues over the Okanagan College Coyotes on Saturday, the number beside his name jumped off the page: 53 points.

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That’s what the fifth-year forward from Coquitlam scored as he shot 20-29 from the field, 10-10 from the free throw line and 3-7 from three, racking up the second highest one-game total ever in PacWest history behind only Ray Branch of Selkirk College who scored 56 in 1987.

“It felt like a regular game,” Sparks-Guest told the North Shore News. “I was just doing everything that I was supposed to do and I was hitting all my shots. I don’t feel like I forced anything or anything felt rushed, I just kind of played the game the way I was supposed to and all my teammates were able to get me the ball in good spots. A little bit of luck, a little bit of training and it happened.”

Sparks-Guest was no doubt aided in his effort by a back-and-forth, frantic, fast-paced game between the first-place Blues and the Coyotes, a new team in the league that was in the middle of their first weekend ever of hosting PacWest basketball games.

“It was just a super energetic game,” said Sparks-Guest.

“There was lots and lots of energy in the gym, and we were just basically trading bucket for bucket the whole game. Lots of points were being put on the board and energies were high. I honestly didn’t notice (my totals) that much until after the game. I could see I scored a lot of points and then I looked at the scoresheet and I was like, ‘Whoa.’”

Capilano head coach Cassidy Kannemeyer echoed his star’s assessment that the points all came in the rhythm of the game.

“The team was able to get Denver the ball in high percentage situations early in the game,” he said. “Coming off a loss on Thursday, the team realized that we needed to play more inside out basketball. That team initiative got Denver in a rhythm early and the team never looked back. Whether it was versus man to man or zone, Denver was able to get his shot all night.”

The win sent the Blues into the winter break with a 5-1 record, tied for first place in the PacWest league with Vancouver Island University. Capilano is currently ranked No. 12 in the country after reaching a season high No. 7 ranking the previous week.

Sparks-Guest said he’s putting it all on the line in his fifth and final college year, and he’s expecting big things from the Blues in the second half of the season.

“I think the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “I think we definitely are a team that can go as far as winning the national championship. … It’s just a matter of doing everything that we can do, and that means just taking care of our business, staying in the gym, everybody studying up on film and everything like that. With a little bit of luck at the end of the season I think we could definitely put ourselves in a position to do that.”    

The Blues will be back on court for a pair of home games against Douglas College Jan. 4 and 5.

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