Douglas Royals still on top in men's basketball

Douglas College’s best shooters stepped to the fore and laid it on the line, leading the Royals to a bounce-back 105-99 victory over the Vancouver Island Mariners in PacWest men’s basketball action on Sunday.

Coming on the heels of their first loss of the season – a 95-80 setback Saturday against the Mariners – the Royals took full advantage of 34-point performances from Courtney Anderson and Dylan Kinley to reclaim sole possession of first place.

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The response on the second day was the big takeaway from what was a playoff-like match up, remarked Douglas’ head coach.

“I liked how we dealt with that adversity of losing our first game,” Joe Enevoldson said. “You never know how you’ll respond after that first loss, but I think we came back with the right intensity and a great mindset.”

Up 31-16 after 10 minutes, thanks to a series of three-point bombs by Josiah Mastandrea (with three in the first four minutes), Kinley (with two) and Courtney Anderson, the Royals created a solid cushion from which to work with.

Unlike the day before, Douglas limited its turnovers and did a good job containing a number of VIU’s top shooters, including new addition Tori Odom. The visiting Mariners pushed hard down the stretch, outscoring Douglas 48-31 over a wild fourth quarter, but while they put up the points, the visitors didn’t cause any panic from the home team.

“To be honest, it was a weird quarter,” remarked the coach. “It was essentially us trying just to get through it after leading by 23 (after three quarters). … It kind of felt like an NBA All-Star game, with all the back-and-forth runs.”

When you connect on 48.6 per cent on field goal attempts and 43.5 per cent from beyond the arc, you have a great chance at coming out ahead.

Kinley himself connected on five of his eight three-point attempts. Mastandrea finished with 14 points, while Ben Rabel chipped in four points and 10 rebounds.

It improved the No. 3-nationally-ranked Royals to 8-1 on the year, one win ahead of the Mariners in the B.C. league standings.

The physical demeanor and aggressive jump that VIU showed in the first game, resulting in Douglas enduring an uncharacteristic 33 turnovers on the day. That stat, along with the forceful tempo set by the visitors, was essentially what went wrong in Saturday’s opener.

Led by Cameron Gay, who counted 25 points, and Odom, with 14 off the bench, the Island team put Douglas on its' heels over the first 35 minutes, before the hosts regained composure. Back-to-back treys from Anderson and Mastandrea propelled the Royals into the driver’s seat, up 52-49 during a highly volatile third quarter. And while they'd lead 57-55 late in the third frame, Vancouver Island caught fire and outscored New West's team 40-23 the rest of the way.

“I think (VIU) just turned us around that first game, they played physical basketball and it threw us off,” said Enevoldson.

Anderson counted a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds in the loss, while Cam Morris netted 15 points and four assists. Kinley chipped in with 13 points, nine boards and five assists, and Reese Morris added 11 points.

The Royals got two newcomers into the game – six-foot-10 post Bollo Gnahore, who played a handful of games last year with Douglas, and guard Patrick Ryan. While each has impressive skills, Enevoldson said team chemistry means the additions will need to work their way through practice first.

“I think it’s going to be week-to-week. We’ve been in a groove and we don’t want to upset the good chemistry we’ve got,” said Enevoldson. “We just want to continue to get better. What I love about playing (VIU) was it put us in a playoff environment, with playoff intensity, and there were a lot of things to like.”

Douglas will play Capilano University in a home-and-home series this weekend, beginning Friday in North Van. They return Saturday, 8 p.m., for the rematch at the New West campus.

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