New Look Douglas College Royals Ready to Defend PACWEST Title in 2018-19

Mastandrea, Josiah
Josiah Mastandrea is one of just three returnees for the Douglas College Royals in 2018-19 from their silver medal team a season ago, and he will be stepping into a new role as one of the team captains. (Source: Varsity Letters) (Header: Varsity Letters)

COQUITLAM, B.C. — The 2018-19 season marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Douglas College Royals men’s basketball program.

Last season, the Royals went 11-7 over the course of the PacWest BC regular season, a record that some wouldn’t expect from the team after their post-season run. Douglas College made a run through the PacWest playoffs, knocking off the VIU Mariners in the title game to advance to the CCAA National Championships.

There, the Royals played their way into the national title game, where they would take on the Seneca Sting from the OCAA. The Sting were the top-ranked team in Canada, but the Royals gave them a fight down to the final buzzer. When all was said and done, the Royals took home a silver medal after falling to Seneca, 86-73.

The loss also marked the end of the career for Grant Campbell with the Royals. Campbell finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in the PacWest BC Conference, and he accumulated four all-star selections and the 2018 PacWest BC Tournament MVP award over his stellar career.

With the loss of Campbell and several other key players from last year’s silver medal team, the Royals will look considerably different on the court in 2018-19. That being said, this year’s team has the potential to be even better than last year’s team, and that’s bad news for the rest of the conference and the CCAA as a whole.

In the PacWest BC championship game last season, Campbell and the Royals took on the Mariners and their star, Usama Zaid. The Mariners won the season series against Douglas College, 2-1, so the Royals were looking to even the score when it mattered most.

Both Zaid and Campbell put together stellar regular seasons, and both players wanted to carry their respective team to the CCAA National Championships. Zaid finished the game with 23 points and seven rebounds for the Mariners, but it wasn’t enough to lead VIU to the league title.

Campbell posted 24 points, four rebounds and five assists to guide the Royals to the 76-59 win over the top-seeded Mariners. The win ended a 10-year title drought for Douglas College, and Campbell was named the Tournament MVP in the process.

At the CCAA National Championships, the Royals knocked off the SAIT Trojans and Nomades de Montmorency to punch their ticket to the national title game with the Sting. There, the Royals led by one at half-time, but a big second half from the Sting propelled them to the 86-73 win.

The win marked the end of the career for Campbell and several others for the Royals, and it signaled the beginning of a new chapter for Douglas College basketball.

Fast forward to this season, and the Royals have just three returnees on their roster from last year’s team that won the silver medal. None of the returnees made more than two starts over the course of the 2017-18 regular season, meaning all three players will be stepping into expanded roles with the team in 2018-19.

The player that produced the most last season is second-year guard Josiah Mastandrea. The 6’3” guard from Port Coquitlam, BC made just one start a season ago, but averaged 8.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per contest over 18 regular season appearances. Mastandrea will be one of the Royals’ team captains this season, and will serve as a veteran leader for the newcomers while being looked upon for more production on both ends of the court.

Sylvester Appiah made two starts last season, averaging 2.6 points and 1.8 rebounds over 17 regular season appearances. Shane Toporowski rounds out the group of returnees, and he’s coming off a season in which he averaged 3.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game over 12 appearances.

There are several holes to fill from last year’s team, and the Royals have an intriguing incoming group of recruits that could very well have the team soaring higher than they did a season ago. Grant Campbell had some high praise for several of the newcomers when we caught up with him ahead of the 2018-19 season.

Freshman Tyrone Asenoguan comes to the Royals from Kitsilano Secondary School in Vancouver, but will be one of the top players on the roster over his career. According  to Campbell, the 6’3” Asenoguan could very well have “the highest ceiling” out of any newcomer on the team and in the conference.

Second year forward Elias Ellison could be one of the most exciting players to watch in all of the PacWest BC Conference. The 6’5” forward from White Rock, BC could very well be “the most athletic guy in the PacWest”, as described by Campbell.

In the preseason, third-year guard Courtney Anderson appears to be the go-to guy on the offensive end for the Royals this season. The native of Palestine, Texas posted a pair of 20+ point performances to open exhibition play this year for the team in wins over the Lethbridge College Kodiaks and Olds College Broncos.

This year, the Royals have a deep roster which is a good problem to have. Head coach Joe Enevoldson has the luxury of having a talented roster from top to bottom that will allow for him to mix players and give his lineup different looks over the course of the season to keep opposing teams on their toes for a full 40 minutes each night.

Their depth was on full display during exhibition play. The Royals took part in a three-day event hosted by SAIT, and while they posted a 2-1 record against some of the top teams from the ACAC, the depth for the Royals was evident. Different players stepped up each night on the offensive end of the floor, and five different players finished first or second in scoring on the team.

Anderson led the way against Lethbridge, flirting with a triple-double by posting 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, while Asenoguan posted 22 points and six rebounds. Douglas College opened the event with a 97-93 win over the Kodiaks.

Against Olds College, Anderson once again led the way for the Royals, posting 23 points in the win. Mastandrea finished second on the team in scoring, posting 16 points in the 98-75 win over the Broncos.

In the third game, the Royals took on the host Trojans in a rematch from last year’s CCAA quarter-final contest. This time, it was Ellison who led the team in scoring, posting 15 points in the 98-72 loss for the Royals. Toporowski recorded a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.

Depth is never a bad problem to have. The Royals have several different players who can step up on any given night and guide the team to a victory. The talent is undoubtedly there for the 2018-19 team to make another run at the title, but experience comes into question. The team is full of newcomers, and a lack of experience may hurt them in the playoffs, as they don’t have prior experiences to fall back on when times get tough.

In our chat with Campbell, he reiterated that same point when discussing the ceiling for this year’s team.

“I think with this team, we could either win a National Championship, or we could lose in the first round of provincials,” said Campbell. “The talent is there, for sure.”

Time will tell how the 2018-19 season will play out for the Royals, but one thing is for certain: they will be a fun group to watch. The roster is chalked full of talent, and people have taken notice of that before the season has even begun. Douglas College will enter the new season as the fifth-ranked team in the CCAA National Rankings, and they are one of just two teams from the conference ranked inside the top 15 to open the season (Capilano Blues, 11th).

Douglas College opens the new season on November 2nd on the road against the Langara Falcons. The Falcons will be hosting the 2018-19 CCAA National Championships in March.

– T. Bennett

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