Top college basketball teams to compete in Nanaimo this weekend

VIU Mariners guard Ranika Guyton and the rest of the women’s basketball team will be vying for the national title this month. || Photo courtesy of Vancouver Island University
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The top female university and college basketball players in Canada will descend on Nanaimo this weekend for the 2022 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s National Basketball Championship.

From March 25-27, Vancouver Island University (VIU) will host eight teams from across the country: five conference champions, two wildcard teams and the host VIU Mariners. All games will be played in the VIU gymnasium.

The Mariners finished the regular season as the top Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) team, as well as in the country after finishing the regular season undefeated. They took home silver at the recent PACWEST Championships in Abbotsford, after being bested by Okanagan College. 

The Mariners will be looking to take home CCAA gold for the first time since 1998.

“Obviously our goal is to win gold, but we’ll take things one game at a time. We will prepare for our first opponent and go from there,” said Tony Bryce, head coach.

And while Bryce called the PACWEST loss to Okanagan College “heartbreaking,” he said it also feels like it has lessened some of the pressure on the team.

“We have an opportunity to compete for national gold and that is exactly what we intend to do,” he said. “I expect our level of focus on the details in practice will be elevated and I expect us to take this loss and be better from it.”

Bryce is also grateful to the CCAA for its decision to return the tournament to Nanaimo this year, as VIU was originally scheduled to host the 2020 tournament before it was cancelled at the last minute due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I believe it was the right thing to do and we are super excited to not only be in the tournament, but to host,” he said. “I hope it brings some closure to my veteran players — not only those still active, but the ones who graduated and lost the opportunity. I feel we will be ready and represent ourselves, VIU and the community very well.”

Danielle Hyde, VIU Athletics and Recreation director, said the host committee has “moved into high gear” and has been working hard since the tournament was given permission to proceed.

“The committee is extremely excited to welcome the top eight teams from across the country,” she said. “I know that the student-athletes are excited and we can’t wait for the first tip-off of the tournament.”

The action gets underway with the first match of the tournament at 1 p.m. on March 25. VIU will play its first game at 6 p.m. that same day.

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