VIU women victorious at provincials
The VIU Mariners were stronger than any opponent, or any obstacle, or any adversity. And they won a championship that way.
Vancouver Island University's women's basketball team won gold medals at the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships on Saturday in Victoria, defeating the Capilano Blues 65-55 in the final. The contest was close most of the night, but in the second half the M's went harder to the hoop, hit clutch free throws, and finally created some separation.
Eventually time ran out, and the Mariners celebrated the program's first provincial championship in 15 years.
"It's just unreal," said Jocelyn Jones, tournament MVP, after the game. "I don't think it's hit me, it's still shocking."
The Mariners had beaten the Blues convincingly in the last two regular-season meetings between the teams, but the M's knew that a playoff matchup would be a bit different.
"We knew [the Blues] were going to come out strong," Jones said. "Everybody was ready to have their best effort and give it all on the floor."
Jones ran into some foul trouble in the first half, limiting her minutes, but in the second half she started finding lanes. She finished with 27 points, including 13-for-14 accuracy from the free throw line. Heather McCarthy, also named a tournament all-star, had 19 points and nine steals. Shayna Worthington pulled down seven rebounds.
The Mariners benefited from the voices of the VIU Nation of fans that made the trip to Camosun College's Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.
"The crowd was chanting 'VIU' and I've never experienced anything like that," McCarthy said. "It was an awesome feeling."
After the game, the Mariners got a trophy and a banner and gold medals all around, rewards for a season in which they handled all manner of roster upheaval.
"We battled this season. We faced some adversity and we overcame it and it couldn't happen to a better group of girls – they're all awesome," McCarthy said.
Bill McWhinnie, the team's coach, said the Mariners are competitive, unselfish, and care for one another.
"We've worked so hard this year, been through so much," he said. "Where we were in November, to now, to win a provincial championship, you can't describe it."
COURT SHORTS … To see a dozen more photos of VIU's victory, please click here … The Mariners women won their semifinal Friday by a 70-68 score against the Douglas Royals. Jones scored 23 in that one, Worthington had 20 points and nine boards and McCarthy scored 12 points … The M's women will now be the PacWest's representative at the Canadian Colleges' Athletic Association championships in Truro, N.S. from March 13-16 … The Mariners men's basketball team earned silver at the PacWest championships, losing 78-74 on Saturday to the Langara Falcons. For the full story, please click here.