VICTORIA, B.C. (from UVic Vikes) – A trip to the Canada West semifinals is on the line this weekend when the UVic Vikes women’s basketball team heads to Alberta where they will battle the Calgary Dinos in a best-of-3 quarterfinals series.
The series, which will take place in the Jack Simpson Gym, gets underway at 5 p.m. PT Friday. Game 2 will take place at 4 p.m. PT Saturday. The third and final game will take place at noon PT Sunday, if necessary.
The matchup is set to be one of the closest in the entire Canada West playoffs, with the fifth-seeded Vikes taking on the fourth-seeded Dinos. The 15-5 Dinos earned a first-round bye and the right to be host for this series over the 16-4 Vikes thanks to leading by just .0019 of an RPI point at the conclusion of the regular season.
With the playoff format in the Canada West changing this year, the team that comes out on top this weekend will advance to the Canada West semifinals. Instead of the Final Four tournament of the past, the semifinals will be a best-of-three series hosted by the higher seed, the winner of the Vikes and Dinos will face the winner of the quarter-finals series between the first-seeded Regina Cougars and the eighth-seeded UBC Thunderbirds.
These two teams have played once previously this year. All the way back on Oct. 20, the Dinos defeated the Vikes by a score of 73-59 in pre-season action.
“They are super long, athletic and they pressure a lot,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair, on the topic of the Dinos. “Although we played them early on, both teams have changed a lot. They have some new players this year so there is not quite as much familiarity between the teams, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”
Last Time Out
The Vikes booked their ticket to the quarter-finals with a dominant victory over the Fraser Valley Cascades in a single play-in game.
Amira Giannattasio scored 33 points and added 10 rebounds, while the trio of Katie Langdon, Haily Weaver and Amy Sprangers did well down low to limit the Cascades offence in a 91-62 victory.
Calgary last played during the final weekend of the regular season after they had a bye through the play-in round last weekend. The Dinos easily handled the Mount Royal Cougars by scores of 107-54 and 79-52 and enter the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak.
By the numbers
6: This is the sixth year in a row that the Vikes have qualified for the Canada West quarter-finals.
13: The Vikes current 13-game winning streak is the second longest in the country.
56.4: Calgary comes into the weekend having allowed the fewest points per game in the conference during the regular season.
Dani Sinclair, Vikes head coach
“I don’t think our team has quite reached their peak level so that’s a positive for us. All year the players have demonstrated that it doesn’t matter where they are or who they are playing against, they are going to focus on themselves and it’s going to be about them as a group. We don’t have to all of a sudden come into the playoffs and pretend that we are okay to go on the road, I think we legitimately feel okay going on the road and we are excited about the opportunity to be moving on.”
“Last week was huge, a lot of confidence was built from that game. We talked about how it wasn’t just another game but it’s not about all of a sudden turning it on, it’s about the preparation to get to this point. I’ve always looked at it as the hard work is done when you get to this time of year and now we just get to show it all off.”
“Our young players that are playing meaningful minutes for us have been in these moments before, they come from winning programs. They understand what a playoff run is all about. Our veteran players have done such a great job in terms of setting the tone for what this is all about.”
On the rotating cast of players stepping up when called upon.
“It takes a lot of pressure off Kristy and Amira, it allows them to be themselves. It’s created a lot of excitement within the team too, it’s a lot easier to play like a complete team when people are getting an opportunity. They’ve intentionally created a culture where they care for one another and play for each other. Nobody cares who is getting the credit but they all care about the team succeeding. When you have players that are willing to do the dirty work, it allows everyone to shine in their own way.