Nanaimo News Bulletin

VIU basketball laying it all on the line

Playoff basketball is high-stakes basketball.

The Vancouver Island University Mariners men’s hoops team (15-1) was all but unbeatable over the course of the regular season, but those games were all just a precursor to the real season – playoffs.

The Pacific Western Athletic Association championships this weekend (March 1-3) in North Vancouver are of the utmost importance to the M’s.

If they have success, they accomplish their goal of a return trip to nationals. If they don’t have success, then the season is over. And not just the season – this is the last playoff run in college basketball for graduating players Jacob Thom and Patrick McCarthy. It’s also the last playoff run for coach Tony Bryce, who announced last month he’ll be stepping down at season’s end.

Even still, it doesn’t make this post-season any different from past years, said the coach.

“Not at all. We go in and prepare and we deal with the day and the task at hand,” said Bryce.

“I fully expect our guys to leave it all on the floor and what will be will be. You’ve got to live for the moment and that’s what we’ll do. We’ll deal with after when after takes place and we’re hoping after is in a few more weeks.”

Thom said he isn’t really treating this tournament any differently, either.

“I don’t really think of it, to be honest. I’m just playing every game like it’s my last,” said the point guard.

“I don’t want to lose, regardless. If it’s my first year I’m not trying to lose and if it’s my fifth year I’m still not trying to lose.”

COURT SHORTS … VIU Mariners women’s players Brittany Knievel and Richelle Rafnkjelson are also playing in their final post-season in college hoops … Thom, Richard Townsend Gant, Kayla Gromme and Shayna Worthington were named PacWest first-team all-stars and Jocelyn Jones was selected as a second-team all-star. Bryce was chosen as PacWest Coach of the Year.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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