Hungry for a medal - NDN story

March 24th, 2013

VIU hungry for medal after trip to nationals

By Josh Aldrich, Daily NewsMarch 19, 2013

The Vancouver Island University Mariners women's basketball team may not have returned from nationals with a medal, but they did bring back a world of experience.

The M's finished in a tie for fifth place with Algonquin College at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championships in Truro, N.S., after falling 72-55 to the Olds College Broncos in the bronze medal qualifier on Saturday.

But after a season where they battled through injuries and adversity, a Pacific Western Athletic Association championship and a strong showing at nationals gives the women a lot to be proud of.

It also gives them motivation for next year.

"Our expectations for next year is winning nationals," said all-Canadian guard Jocelyn Jones. "We see the competition, we see what we have to work on and see what we're going to have to do. Now that we were there we know what to expect, we know what it's going to take to win and get there."

Jones was named a second team all-star, despite spraining her left ankle in the shoot around prior to their first game against the Dawson College Blues.

She played through it but was clearly hampered by the injury. Still she managed to lead VIU by averaging 12.67 points a game, 6.67 rebounds and 3.33 steals.

"She played hut but she played well, she was the focal point of all three teams we played, so she handled herself quite well," said Mariners head coach Bill McWhinnie.

Jones had plenty of help from Heather McCarthy and Shayna Worthington.

They opened with a 65-43 loss to Dawson, but hammered Fan-shawe College in their second game 68-55, holding leads as big as 25 points in the third quarter. The win put them in the bronze medal qualifying game against Olds, the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association champion, and they ran into the women's basketball player of the year Jylisa Williams, who dropped 42 points on them.

Had VIU won, they would have been playing for a medal, instead their tournament was over.

"We didn't get any time to prepare for her because we played so early in the morning and we just had to go out and do our thing, and she's just something else," said McWhinnie. "She was unstoppable."

The big thing to take out of this tournament is that they return almost all of their players next season, including their entire core.

They learned a lot this year as they battled injuries in the first half, getting out to a 2-4 start. But they rallied to a 13-2 finish and a PacWest championship.

This was the first time any of them have experienced nationals and it became clear where they need to improve.

"We've got to improve our perimeter shooting and our ball handling, I think we turned the ball over too much at nationals, which kind of hurt us," said McWhinnie.