The Vikes score a set of impressive victories against the best team in Canada
After an impressive trio of wins this weekend, the UVic Vikes men’s basketball team has their eyes set on the title of national champions.
The team finished undefeated at The Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament, which is held at UVic every other year in honour of Guy Vetrie, an accomplished Vikes basketball coach who led the team to countless victories before his sudden and tragic death in 2003.
This year Bishop’s University, Carleton University, and the University of Alberta attended the three-day tournament from Sept. 29 to Oct 1.
For their Friday game, the Vikes played the Bishop’s University Gaiters. The Gaiters took the first two points of the match, but the Vikes followed up with solid offensive plays. After three-pointers by second-year guard Renoldo Robinson and rookie guard Griffin Arnatt, the score was 15–5 in favour of the Vikes with four minutes left in the first quarter.
After a slow start to the second quarter, fourth-year guard Diego Maffia picked up the pace with two three-pointers within nearly 10 seconds of each other. The Vikes held their lead while the Gaiters almost caught up, finishing the quarter with just a six point advantage.
The Gaiters nearly closed the gap during the third quarter, but the Vikes hung on to their lead. The start of the fourth quarter saw a dunk from second-year forward Shadynn Smid and multiple effortless breakaways from Maffia, widening the Vikes’ lead. The final score was an impressive 96–73 for the Vikes.
On Saturday, the Vikes took on the Carleton University Ravens, who are the reigning Canadian university national champions and have been for 16 of the past 20 years. The game was tight to begin, but three-pointers by Maffia and third-year guard Elias Ralph launched the Vikes into the game with the momentum they needed.
Carleton collected a pair of fouls on Maffia, increasing the Vikes’ lead in the second quarter with his successful free throws. Ralph scored a layup and three-pointer to add to the momentum, and the Vikes finished the quarter with a 19-point lead. The crowd was in high spirits as their team drew closer to beating the national champions.
The third quarter saw powerful defense by Smid, who blocked the Ravens’ attempts to even out the score.
During the fourth quarter, three Vikes were subbed out after one player’s minor injury left blood on their white jerseys. Despite this, the team powered on and finished the game with another impressive final victory of 85–58.
To end the tournament, the team faced the University of Alberta Golden Bears. Maffia shot a three-pointer just 10 seconds into the game, starting a Vikes lead that they would hold onto until the end. The quarter ended with 24–8 in favour of the Vikes.
In the start of the second quarter, the Vikes called a timeout after the Bears started to tighten the score. Maffia got his team back into focus with a sneaky pass to third-year forward Ethan Boag, who landed a three-pointer.
The Vikes ended the third quarter with a ten point lead, and the fourth quarter was a tight one. The score was 65–62 with 4:20 left in the game, but the Vikes never gave up their advantage. They finished the game with a score of 75–67.
Maffia was the Canada West Player of the Year last year, and started his professional career this spring after being drafted by the Vancouver Bandits.
“I think [the tournament ]was our first test,” he told the Martlet. “It’s nice because the national tournament is three games as well — back to back to back.”
He said his goal for the team this year is to win the national championship and to continue the Vikes’ reign as Canada West champions.
“The crowd was good yesterday,” Maffia added. “Beating [Carleton] always feels good … I think the guys just came together. I think we played very hard. The effort was there.”
Coach Craig Beaucamp has been the Vikes’ head coach since Vetrie’s death. He feels reassured by the victory against Carleton. “You always want to test yourself against the best, and they’ve been the best for many years,” he told the Martlet. “We matched their physicality, and our effort was very good.”
“Our goal is to get to the playoffs and take it one game at a time,” Beaucamp added, noting that there will be many hoping for a Vikes national victory. His philosophy is to “just focus on being the best we can be at practice today … If you put your best effort out, you have to live with what the results are.”
This weekend, the team will be in Burnaby playing at Simon Fraser University. The Vikes’ next home game is Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. in the CARSA performance gym against the University of Calgary Dinos.