Vancouver Island University is the undisputed champion of PacWest court sports.
The VIU Mariners women’s and men’s basketball teams both won provincial championships Saturday night in New Westminster. The Mariners women defeated the Capilano Blues 82-77, and a couple of hours later, the M’s men got past the Douglas Royals 89-82 in overtime.
The men’s final was a reverse of one year ago, when the Royals won the PacWest title in VIU’s home gym; this time, the Mariners were winners. But it was how it got to overtime this year that the M’s will remember most – Douglas scored with 1.2 seconds left to go ahead by two points.
“It looked grim,” VIU coach Matt Kuzminski told PacWest TV, but the Mariners had a play in their back pocket, an alley-oop inbounds pass from Cameron Gay to Tyus Barfoot, and the pair executed the play to perfection to beat the buzzer and tie it up.
In OT, VIU outscored Douglas 17-10 to become champions.
“It’s crazy. I’m as emotional as I’ve ever been,” said Kuzminski. “In seven years, it’s the most intense, toughest win we’ve ever pulled out. The strength of our group has been the togetherness of our group and when things were bad, they stuck together. They stuck together and they believed.”
Landon Radliff scored 37 points in the final, while Barfoot had 11 points and 13 rebounds and Harry Fayle scored 13 points.
In the semis, the VIU men handled the Camosun Chargers 90-67. Radliff scored 21 in that one with Barfoot and Brett Christensen adding 14 points each.
Radliff was selected tournament MVP and Barfoot was an all-star.
In the women’s final, VIU was challenged by Cap and trailed going into the fourth quarter. But after several lead changes, the Mariners got ahead and were able to hold on.
“Full credit to the girls. They’ve trusted the process. I’ve pushed them so hard,” said Tony Bryce, VIU coach, speaking to PacWest TV. “I believe that good things happen to good people that work their tail off and they’ve done that and they deserve it.”
Avery Snider led VIU with 24 points and 11 rebounds in the final, while Shayce Johnston added 22 points and 14 boards. Amber Lease had six steals.
The semifinals saw the M’s blow out the opposition, beating the Langara Falcons 78-32. Emma Platner had 15 points, Lease and Snider scored 11, and every VIU player hit the scoresheet.
Lease was selected tournament MVP and Johnston and Platner were all-stars.
GAME ON … The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships will be held March 13-16. Men’s nationals are being hosted by Langara College in Vancouver, while women’s nationals are in Sainte-Foy, Que.