The first half of basketball season could hardly have brought more challenges. The VIU Mariners endured, and will be a stronger team for it.
Vancouver Island University’s women’s b-ball team goes into the holiday break with a 4-4 record, which has them tied for third place in the Pacific Western Athletic Association standings.
“I’m proud of the girls, the way they’ve gotten through the adversity, continued to work hard, never complained,” said Bill McWhinnie, the team’s coach.
The squad learned on the eve of the season that two starters from last season wouldn’t be back. Far too late for supplemental recruiting, the M’s went with what they had.
Then they lost their star point guard Jocelyn Jones to injury for a stretch of games, which hurt. She returned in time to help the team to two wins to end the fall schedule.
“It allows other people to go back to their regular positions,” said the coach. “It gives us a solid ball handler and somebody who can find teammates that are open.”
Jones’ absence did allow other players including Jamie MacFarlane and Viv Veerman to play additional minutes, and they benefited from that, said the coach.
Shayna Worthington is the team’s top scorer through eight games. Her 12.6 points per game are fourth best in the PacWest. Jones is first in the league in assists with 5.4 per game.
The lineup will look a little different again in the new year as the M’s have lost their top rebounder Chardonnae Mortimer, but another forward, Erin Vekic, has become academically eligible.
“A fanstastic shooter, a very intelligent kid,” McWhinnie said. “That’s going to make us deeper and much better.”
So the M’s passed a first-half test, and might have an even better record if they hadn’t let a couple of games get away, said the coach.
“We’re in a position now where maybe we can make a bit of a run in the second half,” he said.
GAME ON … The Mariners will compete in Camosun’s tournament the week after Christmas, and then they jump right back into PacWest competition with a game Jan. 4 against the Camosun Chargers at the Vancouver Island University gym. That game is a 6 p.m. tipoff … To read about VIU’s men’s b-ball team, please click here.