The last time an Isfeld Basketball graduate participated for a Canadian college championship was in 2010 when Keenan Milburn (shooting guard 2006-07) led his SAIT Trojans to a silver medal and was named a first team all-star.
Milburn finished his career as a starting guard for the University of Calgary Dinos and now plays for the ABA’s Calgary Crush.
Tyler Olsen was a member of the Ice program that went to provincials both years and the 2008 Ice that won an Island championship where Olsen was a first all-star. “This year Olsen helped his Vancouver Island University Mariners to the champioship game and took home first team all-star honours, but more importantly he brought home the gold!” noted Isfeld athletic director and basketball coach Colin Cunningham.
Olsen entered his fifth and final year of college basketball as a starting forward for the Mariners. After finishing second in B.C. to Langara College, VIU booked a wildcard berth to Nationals and entered the tournament ranked sixth, a long shot to win. Nationals were hosted March 14-16 by John Abbot College in Montreal.
The Mariners began the tournament with a comfortable 87-75 victory over Red Deer College from Alberta. Olsen was a force for VIU, scoring 15 points and hauling down seven rebounds in 25 minutes of playing time.
The second game can only be described as a nail-biter as Sheridan College erased VIU’s 17-point lead, only to fall 80-76 and vault the Mariners into the final. Olsen was solid again with eight points and 10 rebounds in the critical semifinal.
VIU then met the Holland College Hurricanes, who upset B.C. champion Langara in the other semi. The Ms claimed the gold medal in inspiring fashion with a 77-70 victory, claiming the first national championship for a Mariner team in 19 years.
Olsen scored a relentless 17 points in the final game and was aptly honoured as a first team all-star. He finished the tournament 14th in scoring, fourth in rebounding, sixth in free-throw shooting, fourth in blocked shots and first in offensive rebounding.
This caps an impressive career for Olsen who was also a Week 9 PacWest men’s basketball Player of the Week and a PacWest first team all-star. He summed up the victory: “There’s nothing that can compare to this, this is the greatest feeling ever.”
VIU coach Matt Kuzminski said Olsen rose to the occasion in his final chance at the national title before graduation.
“In his provincial final, the game we played against Langara was probably not his best game. He was disappointed with it, but was able to respond with a great tournament,” Kuzminski says. “He was a first-team all-star and in that final game he controlled the game defensively, and he was able to score as well with 17 points. You can’t go out much better than that for the end of your career.”
“Congratulations, Tyler!” Cunningham added.
– Isfeld Ice Basketball