Bearcats forward Deanna Esau drives to the hoop during last Saturday’s game against the Camosun Chargers. Esau has been a key veteran presence on the school’s first-ever playoff bound team. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Bearcats forward Deanna Esau drives to the hoop during last Saturday’s game against the Camosun Chargers. Esau has been a key veteran presence on the school’s first-ever playoff bound team. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Bearcats women’s basketball team makes history

CBC basketball team heading to Pacwest postseason for first time ever

For the first time ever, the Columbia Bible College (CBC) Bearcats women’s basketball team is heading to the Pacwest playoffs.

The club punched their ticket to the postseason dance on Friday with a 69-61 win over the Camosun Chargers.

The win put CBC’s record at five wins and 13 losses, and they will finish either fifth or sixth overall depending on what happens in the final weekend of the regular season.

Women’s team head coach Angela Booy said it’s been a memorable season for her club.

“Making the playoffs is a huge milestone for us as a program,” she said, following the team’s final regular season game on Saturday. “It moves our program into legitimacy. Other coaches are taking us more seriously and we’re becoming more high profile.”

A big weekend in Squamish that saw the team sweep the Quest Kermodes on Jan. 26 and 27 helped make the playoffs a reality.

The team ended the season on Saturday losing 66-57 to the Chargers, but honoured graduating player Deanna Esau. Booy said the fifth-year forward has been a big part in the team’s journey into the postseason.

“Having a fifth-year player who has bought in has been a huge difference for us,” she said. “We get a lot of turnover as a college and when you graduate all these one-year and two-year players, they don’t learn from leaders. Now we have these leaders who are building the program and it’s so fun to be a part of building a culture here.”

Two years ago the team had an opportunity to make the playoffs, but a controversial non-call in the dying moments of a game against those same Chargers cost the Bearcats a spot in the postseason.

With CBC up 70-67, the Chargers inbounded the ball with less than a second to go. With that amount of time remaining, there is only a chance to tip in shot, but the officials allowed a Chargers player to catch the ball and then shoot a three-point shot to send the game to overtime where Camosun eventually won and eliminated the Bearcats.

Replay footage from that game shows that time had expired before the ball had left the Chargers players hands, but instant replay is not used in the Pacwest. Booy said several players from that team felt some redemption after beating the Chargers to clinch on Friday.

“That game is legendary in our program,” she said. “So for us to beat the Chargers to make it to the playoffs for the first-time ever is pretty sweet.”

Booy, in her fourth year as head coach of the program, said there is something special about this year’s team.

“They root for each other and have the joy and freedom to make mistakes because they know they have each other’s back,” she said. “They push each other and allow each other to have personalities and grit without thinking ‘oh, we’re a bible college’. They give each other permission to be who they are, and we just have a really unique chemistry this year.”

Friday’s game saw Sarah Rozendal score a team-high 18 points and add seven rebounds and four assists. Harvina Kaler (12), Lauren Janzen (12) and Deanna Esau (10) all recorded solid scoring games, with Esau and Makayla Starman each grabbing 11 boards.

Anna Kamerman was the top performer on Saturday, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds, while Rozendal added 12 points.

The women’s team will next travel to Nanaimo for the Pacwest provincials from March 1 to 3, and will play either the third or fourth place team to open the tournament. Final details will be determined after this weekend.

It was different story for the men’s team, who finished with a winless season after dropping games to the Chargers on Friday and Saturday.

The men fell 97-79 on Friday, but got a solid game from forward Tim Dick, who recorded 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

The Bearcats had a better defensive performance on Saturday, but lost 79-67 to the Chargers to finish the season with zero wins and 18 losses. Guard Jack Nadelhoffer was the team’s top player, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Saturday also marked the final game for fifth-year senior Dave Wiebe, who grabbed five rebounds in last appearance for the Bearcats.

The winless season comes off a 2016-17 campaign that saw the club finish with a record of two wins and 16 losses.