A few missed shots meant the difference between gold and silver at nationals.
The Vancouver Island University Mariners were runners-up at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball championships, losing 68-62 to the Humber Hawks on Saturday in Hamilton.
VIU had its chance, tying the score in the last few minutes, but couldn’t get enough shots to fall.
“The silver medal, second in Canada, we made it to the final game on the last day of the year. All of those are great accomplishments and show you that it was a great season,” said Matt Kuzminski, VIU coach. “Just the letdown of seeing all the guys, how upset they are, that’s what makes it tough.”
The Hawks held the Mariners under 30 per cent in field goal percentage, which wasn’t enough even in a defensive battle.
“We had a good chance, just our shooting percentages killed us. We just didn’t make enough shots to get over the hump,” Kuzminski said. “The guys gave it everythingg they could as far as effort and they wanted it so bad.”
Justin King led the Mariners with 26 points and six rebounds, while Jason Fortin had 14 points, six boards and five steals. Jerod Dorby grabbed 11 rebounds.
The VIU men reached the final on the strength of a 92-88 win over the host Mohawk Mountaineers on Friday. King had 23 points in that one, Chris Parker scored 20 and Fortin had 17 points and nine boards.
In Thursday’s tournament opener, King led the way with 26 points and Dorby had 18 points and 14 boards.
King and Fortin were named to the tournament’s first all-star team and on the eve of the tourney, King was selected as a CCAA All-Canadian and Kuzminski was chosen Coach of the Year.
The coach said he’s heard some players talking about next year already. Harrison Stupich and Eric D’Andrea graduate from the program, but many others will be able to return and try to get all the way back to that gold-medal game. They know they can get there, because they’ve done it.
“The process that we put so much time into was the process that was going to get us right to where we needed to be,” Kuzminski said. “We really did everything we could to give ourselves a chance and obviously we were right there, just not quite enough.”