VIU Mariners player Usama Zaid scores a lay-up during a game against the Camosun Chargers last month at the Vancouver Island University gym.

VIU Mariners player Usama Zaid scores a lay-up during a game against the Camosun Chargers last month at the Vancouver Island University gym.

VIU basketball teams in championship contention

B.C. college basketball’s version of March Madness is about to tip off, and both VIU teams are in the brackets.

B.C. college basketball’s version of March Madness is about to tip off, and both VIU teams are in the brackets.

The Mariners men’s team is the No. 1 seed at PacWest championships this week (March 2-4) in Squamish, while the M’s women are ranked No. 3.

“We’re excited, everyone’s in a pretty good mindset and I think it’ll be a good tournament,” said Matt Kuzminski, coach of the Mariners men.

His team will play Friday against either the No. 4 Douglas Royals or the No. 5 Quest Kermodes, tournament hosts.

The intensity will be higher in the playoffs, especially if Friday’s game ends up being against Quest in that night’s feature game in the Kermodes’ gym, but Kuzminski said his team just needs to continue to do the things that have been working.

“We’re not asking our guys to do anything that they haven’t done or raise their game…” the coach said. “At times like this, you fall back to your training and I think we’ve trained pretty hard all year and I think our guys should have some confidence because of that.”

The M’s women will take on the No. 6 Langara Falcons on Thursday. Bill McWhinnie, coach of the Mariners, said any of the top seeds could win the tournament.

“I certainly think we can,” he said. “It’s going to come down to execution defensively and offensively and giving maximum effort for 40 minutes. If we can do that, I think we have a chance.”

For a live stream, please visit www.pacwestbc.ca.

In other Mariners basketball news, the PacWest announced its year-end awards and VIU star Usama Zaid was chosen the PacWest Player of the Year and a first-team all-star. Bryson Cox and Jalen Schlegel were selected as second-team all-stars.

From VIU’s women’s team, Sienna Pollard was announced as a first-team all-star.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

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