The VIU Mariners women’s basketball team was going to be hosting nationals no matter what, but now they get to do so as PacWest champions.
The Vancouver Island University Mariners were able to defeat the Capilano Blues 60-53 in the Pacific Western Athletic Association gold-medal final Saturday in Cap’s home gym in North Vancouver.
“It was just a full team effort all the way around, especially in the final,” said Tony Bryce, VIU coach. “Everybody was doing their jobs and doing it well and that’s what we’ve been preaching all year based on the depth and the talent level that we have all over the place. It was nice to see that take shape.”
Tournament MVP Shayce Johnston was a force for the M’s with 16 points and eight rebounds, Danielle Vanbergen added nine points, and Kiara Johnston also scored nine points and was a “warrior” defensively, the coach said.
The Mariners had prepared for the eventuality of facing Cap in the final, but had to both fight hard and stick with a game plan to earn a win and a provincial championship.
“That’s a tough game to play,” Bryce said. “You’re already in nationals, you’re playing the host team in their gym and I thought we were fantastic.”
The day before, VIU’s women dominated the Camosun Chargers 74-51 in the semifinals, with Amber Lease scoring 15 points and Johnston adding 14 and 12.
In addition to MVP Shayce Johnston, the Mariners had two tournament all-stars, Lease and Madeline Hart.
“It’s pretty special to go back-to-back,” the coach said. “It’s nice, we celebrated it and we’ll take some days off and refresh and recover and then we’ll get back to work and try and pursue another banner.”
Meanwhile, VIU’s men’s basketball team also gets to stretch its season all the way to nationals. The Mariners earned silver medals Saturday night in North Van as they lost 97-89 to the Douglas Royals, and get a wild-card berth to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships this month in Toronto.
In the final, Tyus Barfoot scored a game-high 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Cameron Gay supplied 22 points and Landon Radliff finished with 18.
The day before, the Mariners men beat the Okanagan College Coyotes 88-80 in the semifinals. Radliff scored 22 in that one, Barfoot had 14 points and 16 boards and Brett Christensen and Tori Odom scored 15 points apiece.
Gay and Barfoot were selected tournament all-stars.
GAME ON … The CCAA women’s basketball championships take place March 19-21 at Vancouver Island University and the CCAA men’s basketball championships are March 19-21 at Humber College.