The sign held high by the cheering section of Toronto’s Seneca College Sting read ‘Sting Them Where It Hurts’ and in the end, the bite of defeat finally de-railed the magical post-season run of New Westminster’s Douglas College Royals.
Unranked, unheralded and unknown, the giant-killers from the Royal City had a CCAA national men’s basketball championship well within their grasp at the midway mark of the fourth quarter.
However in a game of extreme runs, the Royals had their crowning moment slip away in an 86-73 loss on the 10-year anniversary of their last national tournament appearance and last national championship final victory.
“The fatigue factor was there,” admitted Douglas head coach Joe Enevoldson. “We hit a big three (midway through the fourth quarter) to cut it to two, but then they came back right away and hit a deep three, and that was the ball game, to be honest You have to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good, and they were the better team tonight, especially in the second half.”
Seneca bolted out to a 10-2 lead right out of the gates, and later led 13-4, but based on their play over the first two days of the tournament, a patient Royals’ team quickly revealed itself.
The Royals went on a 10-2 run of their own to close within 15-14 with 4:06 left in the first quarter, then with 30 seconds left in the opening frame, Reese Morris’ lay-in put Douglas ahead 22-19, a score which would stick after the first 10 minutes.
Douglas’ 18-6 run over the final 5:54 of the opening stanza had them in control of the game.
The second quarter saw the Royals hold serve and lead 35-34 heading into the break.
In the third quarter, however, Seneca got hot from the outside, and with 1:50 left in the quarter, a driving lay-in by Isse Ibrahim gave the Toronto school a 62-49 lead.
Douglas College surged, however, closing the frame on an 8-2 run that included lay-ins by Morris and Kameron Johnson and a trey by Josiah Mastandrea to pull within 64-57.
That surge continued to start the fourth quarter and it looked like the Royals were ready to rally just as they did the night before in its win over defending national champ Montmorency.
In fact when Grant Campbell dished back off a deep penetration move, and teammate Paul Getz nailed a three-point bucket from the top of the arc with 5:04 remaining, the Royals had pulled to within 71-69.
From that point forward, however, the well went dry.
The Sting went on a 9-0 run to lead 80-69 with 2:32 remaining and Douglas managed just a deep Johnson jumper and a pair of Morris free throws the rest of the way.
“I think we showed a resiliency that we knew we had but maybe had seen in glimpes,” said Enevoldson. “It was just hard to sustain it for three days. I think we earned everyone’s respect. I think we now we have an identity and I think we have earned a legitimacy across the country.”
Morris led the Royals with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Noah DeRappard-Yuswack had eight points and 13 rebounds. Kameron Johnson had 18 points and Grant Campbell 10 points. Yusaf Ali led Seneca with a game-high 25 points.
“Everybody looked at our record, third in the PacWest regular season, and under-appreciated us,” the coach continued. “We used that me-against-world mentality and it got us to a national final. We were up at the half. So kudos to our guys. They didn’t believe the hype and they went out and performed.”
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