Final home stand for Mariners

February 9th, 2014

This weekend underlines exactly what is at stake for the Vancouver Island University Mariners women's basketball team this season.

Five players will be playing their final home games of their Pacific Western Athletic Association careers, two of them should be all-Canadians this year and three of them spent their entire college eligibility at VIU.

They take a perfect 18-0 record into the weekend with three games left to play before Jocelyn Jones, Shayna Worthington, Heather McCarthy, Alicia Grossi and Erin Vekic take their final run at the post-season.

They ended a 15-year provincial championship drought last season and finished fifth at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championships. This year they want to be able to pair a national championship banner with one more from B.C. "There is unfinished business," said McCarthy, a Dover Bay product. "We don't like to talk about our record. We know what our goal is, which is to win provincials."

Head coach Bill McWhinnie is trying to keep some perspective on any type of closing window of opportunity. He has been regimented in his one week at a time coach-speak, and that's not changing at all as the season enters its final two weekends.

"We're just trying to enjoy the ride," said McWhinnie. "We don't really talk about the finality of things."

It will be difficult for him to say goodbye to this group this year.

Three of the five - Worthington, McCarthy and Grossi - made up the core of his first

recruiting class.

He has watched them develop over the years, McCarthy and Grossi from reserves to consistent contributors and Worthington into one of the top forwards in the country.

"It's been a pretty amazing ride watching go from first years to fifth years, seeing them grow as players, but more importantly as students and people," said McWhinnie.

Worthington always showed a lot of potential to dominate in the women's game, but it took until last year for the Victoria native to really break out as she scored 13.05 points per game and 6.48 rebounds and was named a first team PacWest all-star and an all-Canadian.

This year she has been even better, averaging a career-high 19 points and 7.89 rebounds.

"I think I've grown individually, moving away from home, and I've definitely grown as a teammate,

being with them for five years," said Worthington.

Both Grossi and McCarthy had to work hard to get into the lineup, finally establishing themselves during a string of injuries on the team last year. They took full advantage and have been regulars in the lineup since.

"I've made some life long friendships here, I will always remember my team here," said McCarthy.

Vekic is just in her second year with the program, and even lost the first semester of her first year due to an eligibility issue. Still she has become a solid rotational player in her short time in Nanaimo.

Jones, a Seattle native, joined the program three years ago and quickly established herself as one of the top guards in the province.

Last year she was named a first team PacWest all-star, all-Canadian, the MVP at the provincial

championship and VIU's female athlete of the year.

She is playing at an even higher level this year, last weekend scoring a career-high 36 points in a 69-53 win over the University of Capilano Blues.

"They put us over the top," said McWhinnie of Vekic and Jones. "Since Jocelyn's been here, we've been very good. She's brought along players like Heather and Erin with her."

Coming to VIU is not a decision regrets at all.

"The last three years have been very good, for me it's been a journey," said Jones. "From my first year I was here. .. we have grown as a team and it's really exciting to end year with them."

The women tip off against the Langara Falcons on Friday at 6 p.m. and at 1 p.m. against the Douglas Royals on Saturday

- See more at: http://www.nanaimodailynews.com/sports/final-home-stand-for-mariners-1.848546#sthash.9XhsJDdc.dpuf

Final home stand for Mariners

Five players will play their final games after five years in Nanaimo this weekend

Josh Aldrich / Daily News
February 13, 2014 12:00 AM

- See more at: http://www.nanaimodailynews.com/sports/final-home-stand-for-mariners-1.848546#sthash.9XhsJDdc.dpuf

 

 

Five players will play their final games after five years in Nanaimo this weekend

Josh Aldrich / Daily News
February 13, 2014

 

 

This weekend underlines exactly what is at stake for the Vancouver Island University Mariners women's basketball team this season.

Five players will be playing their final home games of their Pacific Western Athletic Association careers, two of them should be all-Canadians this year and three of them spent their entire college eligibility at VIU.

They take a perfect 18-0 record into the weekend with three games left to play before Jocelyn Jones, Shayna Worthington, Heather McCarthy, Alicia Grossi and Erin Vekic take their final run at the post-season.

They ended a 15-year provincial championship drought last season and finished fifth at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championships. This year they want to be able to pair a national championship banner with one more from B.C. "There is unfinished business," said McCarthy, a Dover Bay product. "We don't like to talk about our record. We know what our goal is, which is to win provincials."

Head coach Bill McWhinnie is trying to keep some perspective on any type of closing window of opportunity. He has been regimented in his one week at a time coach-speak, and that's not changing at all as the season enters its final two weekends.

"We're just trying to enjoy the ride," said McWhinnie. "We don't really talk about the finality of things."

It will be difficult for him to say goodbye to this group this year.

Three of the five - Worthington, McCarthy and Grossi - made up the core of his first

recruiting class.

He has watched them develop over the years, McCarthy and Grossi from reserves to consistent contributors and Worthington into one of the top forwards in the country.

"It's been a pretty amazing ride watching go from first years to fifth years, seeing them grow as players, but more importantly as students and people," said McWhinnie.

Worthington always showed a lot of potential to dominate in the women's game, but it took until last year for the Victoria native to really break out as she scored 13.05 points per game and 6.48 rebounds and was named a first team PacWest all-star and an all-Canadian.

This year she has been even better, averaging a career-high 19 points and 7.89 rebounds.

"I think I've grown individually, moving away from home, and I've definitely grown as a teammate,

being with them for five years," said Worthington.

Both Grossi and McCarthy had to work hard to get into the lineup, finally establishing themselves during a string of injuries on the team last year. They took full advantage and have been regulars in the lineup since.

"I've made some life long friendships here, I will always remember my team here," said McCarthy.

Vekic is just in her second year with the program, and even lost the first semester of her first year due to an eligibility issue. Still she has become a solid rotational player in her short time in Nanaimo.

Jones, a Seattle native, joined the program three years ago and quickly established herself as one of the top guards in the province.

Last year she was named a first team PacWest all-star, all-Canadian, the MVP at the provincial

championship and VIU's female athlete of the year.

She is playing at an even higher level this year, last weekend scoring a career-high 36 points in a 69-53 win over the University of Capilano Blues.

"They put us over the top," said McWhinnie of Vekic and Jones. "Since Jocelyn's been here, we've been very good. She's brought along players like Heather and Erin with her."

Coming to VIU is not a decision regrets at all.

"The last three years have been very good, for me it's been a journey," said Jones. "From my first year I was here. .. we have grown as a team and it's really exciting to end year with them."

The women tip off against the Langara Falcons on Friday at 6 p.m. and at 1 p.m. against the Douglas Royals on Saturday