The gateway to a national championship tournament berth goes through Douglas College.
That doesn't mean the Douglas College Royals have an easy route.
As hosts of the PacWest women's basketball championships, which tip off today (Thursday) at the New West campus, the Royals face a stiff challenge just to get to a second game.
They need to get past the Langara College Falcons today (5:30 p.m.) just to advance to tomorrow's (Friday) semifinals.
In head-to-head action, Douglas posted a 2-1 record against the Falcons, including a strong 73-60 decision just two weeks ago. It was a match where, after a slow start, the Royals put their best foot forward and out-scored Langara 44-18 over the second and third quarters to rack up the program's 10th win. Guard Jessica Castillo came off the bench to score a team-high 19 points, while stalwart forward Rachel Beauchamp racked up 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
The lone fifth-year player -- in fact, the only player besides Castillo who isn't a first-year college rookie -- Beauchamp remains the team's cartographer, mapping out the way to success. The Holy Cross alum was recognized Wednesday as the PacWest's women's basketball player of the year, having posted the league-leading stats in average scoring (19.3 points per game) and rebounding (13.5 boards).
Beauchamp was also named to the first all-star team, while guard Sydney Fraess was selected to the PacWest all-rookie team.
Douglas finished fourth overall with a 10-8 record, while Langara placed fifth at 6-12. In the other quarterfinal (3:30 p.m.), No. 3 Camosun plays No. 6 Okanagan. A win would catapult the Royals into Friday's 5:30 p.m. semifinal against No. 1 Vancouver Island, who rolled through the season with an impressive 17-1 record.
The championship final is slated for 5:30 p.m. Saturday. All games are at New Westminster's Douglas College campus.