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By Andy Watson, UVIC Communicatons

VICTORIA, B.C. (ISN) – The stakes are high on and of the court, as the University of Victoria Vikes women’s and men’s basketball teams will play host to the final leg of the national Shoot for the Cure initiative which raises funds and awareness for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF).

UVic’s women must defeat the No. 4 nationally ranked and rival UBC Thunderbirds on Friday at 6 p.m. at McKinnon Gymnasium to make the playoffs, while the men need to win to clinch a home playoff berth in next weekend’s Canada West quarter-final series. Should the No. 6 nationally ranked UVic men win on Friday when they meet the No. 5 nationally ranked UBC Thunderbirds, they would move on to host the Calgary Dinos Feb. 24-26 in the best-of-three quarter-final series.

Off the court, the Vikes are raising funds for an important cause. In the 2010-11 season, CIS schools raised over $140,000 to fight breast cancer.

“This is an extremely important national initiative, and our team is extremely proud to be part of helping in the fight against breast cancer,” said Vikes head coach Rich Chambers. “We hope we can raise some great awareness and some funds for the CBCF while doing our job on the court as well and defeating UBC to clinch a playoff spot.”

“Every year, the UBC game is a great contest, usually with a lot on the line,” said UVic men’s basketball head coach Craig Beaucamp. “This year, it’s no different. We have a very important game that will determine the Pacific Division champion and with it home-floor advantage for the Canada West quarter-finals. It’s a big night for both teams and for the department in providing awareness and support for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.”

In 2011-12, all 43 CIS schools are taking part in the Shoot for the Cure campaign.

“Getting every team on board was definitely one of our objectives this year,” said University of New Brunswick head coach and Shoot for the Cure project manager, Jeff Speedy. “Our other main goal remains to reach half a million dollars raised for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation in the first five years of the initiative.”

Shoot for the Cure has proven an overwhelming success in its first four years with close to $400,000 in donations to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and other related cancer charities. The CIS Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) continues to work on a unified effort in the fight against breast cancer. This is the fifth year for the nationwide Shoot for the Cure games. Prior to the $140,000 raised in 2010-11, the WBCA presented a cheque for $94,650 to the CBCF in 2009-10, surpassing the $81,512 collected in 2008-09 and $50,320 raised in the initiative’s inaugural season in 2007-08. The fundraising initiative was the brainchild of Rod Gilpin, the long-time bench boss of the Bishop’s women’s program now in his fourth season as head coach of the Gaiters’ men’s team.

For more information on the CBCF or to make a donation, visit