Vikes look towards playoffs with four memorable wins

SPO BBALL Mck heart Hugo Wong

Mack Roth tips the ball away from a TWU player on a rebound at the last regular season Vikes basketball game on the Ken and Kathy Shields Court at McKinnon Gym. Photo by Hugo Wong (Editor-in-chief)

 

As one chapter nears an end, the Vikes basketball made sure some of the final memories of games played McKinnon Gymnasium were unequivocally positive. The Vikes men’s and women’s teams won all four games against Trinity Western University, including both games on Saturday night during the “I Heart McKinnon” festivities.

Friday night’s games were both comfortable victories for the Vikes. The women’s team won 89-75 with strong performances from fifth-year veterans Jessica Renfrew and Cassandra Goodis.

The men’s team easily handled TWU 99-79 in Friday’s game thanks in large part to a balanced offensive attack from a selection of Vikes veterans including Marcus Tibbs and Chris McLaughlin.

In Saturday’s action, the women’s team completely out-classed TWU, beating them 93-58 while simultaneously honouring the achievements of seniors and getting  a glimpse into a promising future. In a game that honored seniors Renfrew and Goodis for their careers at UVic, first-year guard Amira Giannattasio scored a season-high 31 points and looks poised to be a leader for the Vikes in the coming seasons.

After already setting the Canada West all-time record for assists last week, Goodis continued to add to her impressive list of achievements by setting the UVic record for steals in Saturday’s game, finishing her regular-season career with 274.

The final game of the weekend was a 92-63 thumping for the Vikes men’s team. In his final regular season game, the six-foot-10 McLaughlin was absolutely dominant for the Vikes, scoring 18 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks in 29 minutes of action.

TWU had no answer for McLaughlin’s size and strength in the paint and were able to utilize effective perimeter shooting to compliment their inside game as well. A big part of the Vikes’ perimeter success was Tibbs who finished with a game-high 20 points including three from beyond the arc.

It wasn’t all good news from Saturday night’s game as during a last-second shot in the second quarter, rookie guard Kai Greene fell and appeared to injure his left knee. Greene played in one minute in Saturday’s game and did not return, unable to place any weight on the knee while being helped off the court by teammates. As a rookie, Greene doesn’t log a lot of minutes but if he is out for the playoffs his injury would place more stress on Tibbs who finished Saturday’s game with 29 minutes played.

During half-time of Saturday’s games, the Vikes honoured alumni from the past 40 years of Vikes athletics during a ceremony that allowed alumni and current athletes to take one final lap around the Gymnasium and a piece of the original McKinnon Gymnasium floor dedicated to future successes at CARSA.

With the quartet of wins, both Vikes teams have ensured that last weekend’s games will not be the final games played at McKinnon Gymnasium.

The men’s team finished in second place in the CW Pioneer Division and will host the University of Alberta Golden Bears in the CW Quarterfinals Feb. 27-Mar.1. In their last two meetings, the Vikes beat the Golden Bears and have not lost two-straight games since late November. U of A are ranked fourth in CW and finished the season with only one fewer win that the Vikes.

The women’s team finished fifth in the CW Pioneer Division and now host a best-of-three play-in series against the University of Calgary Dinos this weekend. The winner of this series advances to the CW Final Four the following weekend. The Vikes split their games against the Dinos this season in January but since then, the season has taken a dramatic downtown for the U of C. The Dinos have lost five-straight games heading into the playoffs but their last victory came against the Vikes.

Though the Vikes are favoured to win their first playoff opponents, both teams present unique challenges for the Vikes and should make for some exciting playoff drama, the most fitting ending possible for McKinnon Gymnasium.

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