Eagles end playoff run with pride but no medal

Eagles narrowly miss medalling, but are still pleased with productive provincials.

Eagles narrowly miss medalling, but are still pleased with productive provincials.

By Brian Jones
[associate sports editor]

VICTORIA – The ferry ride home from Victoria will carry a little less weight for the Kwantlen Eagles women’s basketball team.

Despite the three tough games – where they left all they had on the floor – the Eagles return without a medal, coming up short in the consolation final against the Douglas College Royals on Saturday, March 2 at Camosun’s Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

The Royals, ranked third in the PacWest heading into the championship weekend, handed the Eagles a 68-41 loss in Saturday’s battle for bronze.

“To be honest, we kind of achieved our goal,” said Eagles head coach Dan Nayebzadeh. “Our goal was to win our first game.  And I’m still proud of the kids. They worked hard all season.”

After leading the Eagles by just four points at the end of the first quarter, the Royals showed why they only lost by only two points to the Vancouver Island University Mariners – the eventual PacWest champs – the night before.

They bolted out to a strong start in the second quarter, which led to a halftime score of 30-15. More of the same trend continued in the third, with Douglas holding a 44-26 advantage going into the fourth and final quarter.

A 26-15 scoring margin that favoured the Royals in the final frame accounted for the lopsided final score.

While Douglas was led by fifth-year stars Patti Olsen and Amonda Francis, Kwanlten saw big contributions from rookie Amber-Lee Kavanagh and second-year point guard Jessica Villadiego.

That was the theme of this weekend – the Eagles youth and inexperience being overmatched by the veterans that seemed abundant in other team’s rosters.

While the loss in the bronze medal game leaves the Eagles with a disappointing ending to a weekend that started out with such promise after their opening round upset over Quest University, Nayebzadeh is happy with the direction of the program.

“I think we did what we kind of had to do so far. To be honest it’s hard to beat fourth and fifth year players when they’ve had experience going to this game every year,” said Nayebzadeh. “I think a little break is good. Get down to recruiting and getting ready for the next season. A little break is good for us.”