2013 Provincial Champs

March 3rd, 2013

PHOTOS from the Championships are now posted on  VIU FLICKR
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Basketball: Mariners end 15-year title drought
Jocelyn Jones named tournament MVP, VIU advances to CCAA Championships in Truro, N.S
 
Josh Aldrich
Daily News

 

Fifteen years. That's how long it had been since the Vancouver Island University Mariners had won a women's basketball provincial championship.

On Saturday, at Camosun College in Victoria, that all changed with a 66-55 win over the top-ranked Capilano University Blues.

The women's basketball were the least likely of the four VIU athletic programs to even advance to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association finals at Christmas time due to their early season struggles and the fact there was no wild card, but they were the only team to win a championship. The turnaround was remarkable.

Leading the charge for VIU was Jocelyn Jones who had 27 points and four steals in the gold medal game and collected tournament and game MVP honours. Veteran forward Heather McCarthy was also named to the tournament's all-star team.

There has been a lot of heartbreak for the program the last five years, but for once, the only tears shed after the final were in celebration.

"It's huge, it's a great finish to a fantastic season," said head coach Bill McWhinnie. "It's been great. I've had three girls along with me for most of the way - (Shayna) Worthington, (Alicia) Grossi and McCarthy - and to watch them grow into key players for us has been amazing." The significance of ending the streak was not lost on the players.

Jones - a fourth-year point guard - is only in her second year with the program, but she was also part of last year's team that lost the gold medal to the University of Northern British Columbia Timberwolves.

"It feels good to know that we are part of the team to make history," she said.

Despite earning a bye to the semifinal as the second seed, the Pacific Western Athletic Association championships were anything but easy for the M's. In their Friday game, they faced the No. 3 Douglas Royals, the one team they had not beat all year. This time, however, they beat them for the first time in four tries, 70-68.

Jones led the way for VIU with 23 points while fourth-year forward Worthington had 20 points and nine rebounds and was named player of the game.

Getting over that mental block was huge for Mariners and it set them up for the final, needing one more win to advance to nationals.

"The key was to not let Douglas dictate how we play. We had to play our game," said Jones. "We needed to focus on ourselves and focus on rebounding and boxing out, which we didn't do the other three games."

The final was another tight game with a single-digit spread until the final couple of minutes when the Mariners put it away.

For McWhinnie, the provincial banner is a long time coming.

He has been head coach for five years and has qualified for the tournament every season, the last three years with a bye to the semis. The last two years did not have the desired outcome, however.

This season, it did not look like the they would even get the bye at Christmas time, sitting at 4-4, injured and not playing very good basketball. Frustration for McWhinnie was at an all-time high.

But in the second semester they got healthy and wins slowly started to mount. They won 13 of their final 15 games and grabbed the bye on the final week of the regular season.

That frustration has been replaced with a sense of accomplishment by the head coach.

"It would have been hard to envision this at Christmas time," said McWhinnie. "It's full credit to the girls. They've battled through adversity and continue to work hard. This is all on them."

A healthy Jones was one of the big reasons for their turnaround. She was snubbed in the PacWest Player of the year voting, but she showed this weekend that maybe she was overlooked.

Still she spread the credit around.

"I knew if I played good, the team would follow," she said. "It was a team effort, it wasn't just about me getting the MVP or me playing well, I think everyone played well."

The Mariners' only national championship came in 1998 when they were coached by Tom Elwood and posted a 16-2 regular season.

It was also their only provincial championship until this weekend.

They made the CCAA's the following season with a wild card berth, but they finished off the podium. They have not been back since.

McWhinnie took over coaching the program in 2008-09 from David Butler and have since gone 68-16.

"It felt good because we knew that we deserved it, but most importantly I think our coach really deserved it, just the process of the year we had," said Jones.

Now they are headed to Truro, N.S., March 13-16.

"It felt good to prove everyone wrong. I'm sure throughout our season, no one thought we were going to be a provincial champion because of all we went through last year . . . and all of the little stuff that happened during the season," said Jones. "It felt good to use it to our advantage, because in the end it got us a provincial championship."

 

 

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March 2, 2013 - Women's Basketball, PACWEST

Victoria, BC - The final women's game of the 2013 PACWEST Provincial Championship tournament saw #2 seed VIU Mariners against the #1 seed Capilano Blues.  The Mariners were coming off a huge win over the Douglas Royals 70-68 yesterday and definitely had momentum on their side to start the game.  The Blues also came off a big win from last night over the Kwantlen Eagles 75-57, making a statement that they were the team to beat. 

Both teams came out in the first half with speed and intensity as Capilano opened the scoring.  The energy and passion from the VIU fans fuelled the team to begin driving the lane harder and faster than any game so far in this tournament.  A couple of pivotal three pointers kept the Blues close. In a back-and-forth game, the second quarter ended with VIU having a slight lead 24-22.  

Head coach of the Mariners, Bill McWhinnie, was forced to make a tough decision in the second quarter by benching star guard, Jocelyn Jones.  He saw that she was anxious and needed a few minutes to calm her nerves for the big game.  His risky move paid off once Jocelyn returned in the third quarter with more confidence than ever. Jones drove the hoop strong and forced Capilano’s Alynn McNeilly and Hayley Boulier to foul out in the fourth quarter.  

The second half was physical but VIU led the charge slowly pulling away, outscoring the Blues 20-18 in the third. Countering the powerful force of Jocelyn Jones was Blues guard, Jenn Bodnar who put up 16 points, 4 steals and only missed one shot from behind the line.  Bodnar also played a huge defensive role by drawing offensive charge fouls in the tight moments of the game when every free throw counts. 

Jocelyn Jones put up 27 points and 4 steals that led to numerous quick breaks up the court.  Her performance in tonight’s game earned her Player of the Game as well as the game yesterday proving she truly is the PACWEST tournament MVP.  When asked what the turning point of the game was, Jones stated, “we just knew that the last ten minutes were all or nothing.”  She acknowledged that the VIU fans made a huge difference in the energy of the game and helped the team stay focused on the prize. 

Winning their first PACWEST title since 1997-98, the Mariners will be focused on preparing for the CCAA Nationals in the coming weeks.

2012-13 PACWEST Women’s Basketball Tournament All-Stars

VIU: Heather McCarthy; Jocelyn Jones

Tournament MVP

VIU: Joceyln Jones