Vancouver Island University’s women’s basketball team made history, and more importantly, they achieved their ultimate goal and won the Canadian college championship.
The VIU Mariners defeated the Géants de Saint-Jean by a 60-54 score Saturday, March 18, in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association gold-medal match in Hamilton.
It was the first time VIU’s women’s basketball team has won a national title since the Malaspina Mariners did it in 1998, and it’s also the first time since ‘98 that any B.C. team has won the title.
Saturday’s final came down to the fourth quarter. The Mariners trailed going into the final frame, but they were OK with where they were. Coach Tony Bryce said his players refused to lose.
“There was just an unbelievable amount of resilience…” he said. “We had people playing on blown ankles and torn hamstrings. Just a tough group that gritted it out. It was pretty special.”
By the fourth quarter of the final game of the tournament, both teams were beat up, but the Mariners tried to take advantage and further wear down the opposition. They outscored the Géants 16-4 in the final quarter.
“The girls executed a game plan beautifully…” Bryce said. “We never seemed uncomfortable. There was just an element of confidence there that we were going to be OK.”
With six seconds left and a six-point lead, the coach gave his team some final instructions. Then he sat down and “broke down” over the final seconds until the buzzer sounded.
Harriette Mackenzie led VIU with 17 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks in the final and Chloe Scaber was chosen player of the game. Ranika Guyton and C.J. Buckley each scored 12 points. Mackenzie was selected tournament MVP and Guyton and Buckley were first-team all-stars.
Bryce said he thinks some of the “refuse to lose” mentality and the ability to stay calm in the clutch came from the experience of last year’s nationals, when the Mariners lost in overtime of the gold-medal match.
“We’re not where we are without that senior group from last year and I hope they feel a part of this is theirs as well, because they’ve helped me develop this program to where it’s at,” Bryce said.
That place is at the top of Canadian women’s college basketball, a height the coach always believed was achievable.
“It’s not easy. Something has to go right,” he said. “It’s a real good feeling and I think it’s well-earned and well-deserved. I don’t think good things happen to good people – I think good things happen to good people that work their [tail] off and that’s what we’re all about.”
VIU Mariners men earn bronze at national championships
Vancouver Island University’s men’s basketball team ended the season with a podium placing.
The VIU Mariners men captured bronze at the CCAA championships in Calgary this past week. VIU defeated the St. Clair Saints 109-100 in the third-place game Sunday, March 19.
Landon Radliff scored 31 points, Akoi Yuot had 30 points and 15 rebounds and Richard Henderson scored 27 points to go with 13 rebounds for the M’s.
Yuot was named a first-team all-star and Henderson was a second-team all-star.Follow @nanaimobulletin