VIU Mariners player Emily Clarke, right, tries to get past teammate Juliet King during practice Monday at the Vancouver Island University gym. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

VIU women will be first to tip off in this week’s big tourney

PacWest provincial championships start Thursday, March 1 in Nanaimo

The VIU Mariners will be there for the start of the big tournament, and hope to be there till the end, too.

Vancouver Island University’s women’s basketball team is getting ready for the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships, which start Thursday, March 1 at VIU.

The Mariners women (13-5) finished the PacWest regular season tied for second place, but missed the No. 2 seed on a tiebreaker. It means they don’t get a bye and will need to battle through a first-round game on the first day of the tourney.

Tony Bryce, Mariners coach, likes the way preparations are going.

“The girls seem to be locked in mentally and physically, but you never know till the ball goes up how they’ll respond,” he said. “But I feel like we’ve done everything we need to do to put ourselves in a position to have some success.”

The M’s, as the host team, could have opted to play Thursday’s matchup against the Quest Kermodes in a 6 p.m. feature game slot, but chose the 1 p.m. tournament opener instead.

“I just felt if we were fortunate enough to get through the first one, that we would have an extra five hours. I get an extra five hours of preparation and the girls get an extra five hours of rest and recovery,” Bryce said. “The goal is to win a championship and as much as I would love more fans, I believe our chances of winning a championship are greater by keeping the game at 1 and finding a way to win.”

He said the Kermodes are a challenging opponent, but the same can be said about any playoff teams in the PacWest. Bryce said one thing the Mariners have going for them going into provincials is their toughness.

“They’re gritty and they’re tough and I’ve demanded and they’ve answered,” he said. “So we’ll be ready.”

GAME ON … The VIU Mariners play the Quest Kermodes on Thursday, March 1 at 1 p.m. at the Vancouver Island University gym. Day passes to the tournament are $10 for adults or $5 for youths, seniors and alumni. Tournament passes are $20 for adults or $10 for youths, seniors and alumni. VIU students and children 12 and under will be admitted free.

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