The biennial exhibition Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament took place from Oct. 19–21 this year, honouring one of UVic’s most celebrated coaches of all time.
Guy Vetrie coached the men’s basketball team from 1989 to 2003, when he passed away at just 52 years old. During that time, Vetrie guided the Vikes to victory in the 1997 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) National Championship. This gave UVic its eighth national championship, the most of any Canadian university at the time. Vetrie was also recognized for his outstanding efforts with six Canada West Coach of the Year awards.
This year saw a four-team pool consisting of the UVic Vikes, Lethbridge Pronghorns, Alberta Golden Bears (2012 Canada West Champions and CIS runners-up) and Carleton Ravens (2012 Ontario University Champions and CIS Champions). The Ravens have dominated men’s basketball in Canada recently, going 22–0 last season and winning the majority of CIS Championships in the last 10 years. Facing a talented set of teams, the Vikes had a great opportunity to line up against the best in the nation.
The Vikes opened the tourney on Friday night against Lethbridge in the McKinnon Gym. UVic was able to take advantage of first-half foul troubles that plagued Lethbridge. The Vikes opened up a 37–28 lead at the half, capped off by a bucket and a foul shot by Vike Reiner Theil in the final minute of the first half.
The second half was a different story, though, as the Pronghorns battled back to trail just 54–53 after three quarters, and then took the lead in the fourth quarter. Lethbridge led by as much as seven, but the Vikes fought back and saw Chris McLaughlin hit late back-to-back threes to tie and take the lead, followed by a Brin Taylor triple to ensure the comeback. The Vikes held on, winning 80–73. McLaughlin shot five for six and had a team high of 17 points.
“We picked up our energy level a lot,” said Vikes forward Ted Neilson of the fourth-quarter comeback. “Those threes at the end . . . got us a spark that kind of just rolled us at the end of the game for the win.”
Vike Terrell Evans explained that few adjustments were necessary after Lethbridge had gotten back into the game. “We just had to bring more energy that we had in the first half and transfer it over to the second half. We just buckled down and got the win.”
Saturday saw the Vikes taking on Carleton, and as expected, they had a difficult time with the defending national champions. Carleton allowed UVic just four points in the second quarter, and was firmly in control (57–23) at the half. The Vikes would outscore Carleton in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome the Ravens’ dominant first half, as Carleton would go on to win 87–63. The Ravens’ Nationals MVP, Philip Scrubb, put up a game high 25 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
The Vikes’ final game came on Sunday against Alberta. It looked as though Alberta might run away with the game early on, jumping out to an early 11–3 lead. But the Vikes would then go on a 13–0 run and lead 19–15 after the first quarter. The Vikes maintained their four point lead at the half and led 56–51 after three, but as they did in their game against Lethbridge, the Vikes let the lead slip away in the fourth. Again, UVic battled back, though, tying the game at 66 before Evans put the Vikes ahead for good with a late jumpshot. The Vikes would hit their foul shots and take the game 75–70. Michael Acheampong led the way for the Vikes with 20 points.
“It was a collective team effort; we played offence pretty well,” said guard Vijay Dhillon on the win. “We stopped [Jordan] Baker, their main guy, we got him fouled out . . . and we hit our free throws.”
The win over Alberta provided UVic with a successful second place close to the tournament and proved the Vikes will be competitive against the best of Canada West in the upcoming season. Theil is optimistic about the season after UVic’s strong performance.
“It was four pretty good teams, so we’re definitely up there with the top teams in the country. We just gotta keep practicing hard and hopefully get some more good results.”
The Vikes will start their quest for the CIS Championships on Nov. 2 against the UBC-Okanagan Heat at 8 p.m. before playing the Heat again Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. at McKinnon Gym.