VIU Mariners players Juliet King, second from left, and Danielle Vanbergen look for a rebound during a 74-49 win against the Douglas Royals on Thursday at the Vancouver Island University gym. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

First-place VIU basketball teams keep building

Mariners women’s and men’s hoops teams sweep a homestand

VIU’s basketball teams, already in first place, are continuing to add dimensions as they push closer toward the PacWest playoffs.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s and women’s hoops teams won all their games this week at the VIU gym. The Mariners men (13-1) swept the second-place Douglas Royals by scores of 92-72 and 98-74 on Thursday and Friday, and the M’s women (13-1) won by scores of 74-49 and 72-56.

The Mariners women were led again by guard Avery Snider, who is back healthy, feeling good and has been a force at both ends of the court in the new year. She had 19 points and nine rebounds in Thursday’s win and then 17 points and 13 boards the following day. Shayce Johnston had 17 points and nine rebounds in Friday’s contest.

Snider said even though she has only played a half dozen games so far, it’s felt like more with the way her teammates have been playing around her.

“It took some time for our team to kind of meld and accept how deep we are [and find] our roles,” she said. “Now that we’re in a good place, we know what we have to do and we know that some people are going to get out there more and some people are going to get out there when certain matchups are good. So we’ve made that work well.”

Tony Bryce, coach of the VIU women, said having “I think by far the best depth in the league” is great, but “brutally hard” as a coach.

“You’ve got some really good players on the bench and it’s a fine balance between trying to play everybody, but also making sure your main players are getting what they need and getting ready for hopefully two or three tough games in the playoffs,” said Bryce.

He acknowledged that while players need to get the opportunity to get into a rhythm with their shooting, there are many different players capable of getting a hot hand, and there’s more to it than that, too.

“We want to hit you in multiple ways,” Bryce said. “We don’t just want to bomb away, we want to score inside, we want to score outside and we want to attack you in transition. You just go by feel and hope you make the right decision.”

Snider said the team is “miles ahead” of where it was at this time last year and “looking really good for moving into the playoffs.”

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In men’s action, Landon Radliff starred again last week with a 34-point performance in front of a sizeable crowd Thursday. Harry Fayle added 15 points and Tyus Barfoot pulled down 15 rebounds. The next day, Radliff scored 30 points. Barfoot had 17 points and 13 boards and Fayle added 15 points and nine assists.

GAME ON … The Mariners basketball teams are on the road Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8-9, for games against the Langara Falcons. VIU’s teams have just one more home game each this season, Feb. 16 against the Camosun Chargers.

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