The third time proved to be the charm for the VIU Mariners’ men’s basketball team, who defeated the Langara Falcons in the finals of the PacWest Provincial Championship on March 7. In each of the last two years, the Mariners had lost the gold medal game to the Falcons.
The first quarter between the two teams was evenly matched, with the Mariners leading 25-23 after the first. The second quarter was just as even as the first. But with time winding down in the half, Chris Parker forced Langara to turn the ball over before hitting a buzzer-beating three to take a 42-39 lead at halftime.
The Mariners came out strong to start the second half, determined to put the game away before the fourth quarter. But the Falcons managed to hang around, matching each Mariners’ run with a streak of their own. After three quarters, the game was tied at 58.
The Mariners took the lead early in the fourth quarter. VIU had a five point lead late in the fourth, but were dealt a scare as the game entered its final moments. Justin King, the Mariners’ leading scorer and PacWest player of the year, suffered an injury with just over two minutes left in the game. But despite missing their leading scorer in the game’s final minutes, the Mariners were still able to hang on to capture the PacWest championship, picking up a 82-76 victory over the Falcons.
The Mariners advanced to the finals of the Provincials by defeating the Douglas College Royals 89-82 in the semi-finals. VIU trailed the Royals 14-7 in the first quarter, but shook off the slow start to advance to the finals.
Both the Mariners and the Falcons will now travel to the CCAA National Basketball Championships in Hamilton, ON at Mohawk College, March 18-21. The Mariners and Falcons will enter the National Championship looking for their second title in the past three years.
The Mariners have a couple of weeks to rest and prepare for the trip to Hamilton for the National Championships. For more information on the Mariners and their upcoming games, visit <mariners.viu.ca>.