by Ardy Ramezani, Vikes Communications
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – Following a split weekend with the visiting Winnipeg Wesmen, The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team are second in the Canada West Pioneer Division just behind the Calgary Dinos. However, despite the Dinos’ 10-3 record, the Vikes have one game in hand and will look to take the top spot in the conference as they travel to Alberta to take on the Dinos in back-to-back games this weekend on Jan. 23-24.
Ranked No. 6 in this week’s CIS Top-10 polls, the Vikes enter the weekend after a character building win and loss. The Vikes were forced to compete without fourth-year starting point guard Marcus Tibbs, leaving room for several members of the team to gain valuable experience. Fifth-year centre Chris McLaughlin, the Vikes’ leading scorer and rebounder, led the team both nights with 17 and 16 points respectively while second-year guards Jordan Charles and Patrick Pilato stepped up and contributed double digits in scoring. McLaughlin is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring, averaging 18.8 points per game and is second in rebounding with an average of 10.2 rebounds per game.
Despite a disappointing season last year that did not see Calgary reach CIS nationals, the Dinos have posted strong victories this season and are ranked No. 10 in the country this week. Last weekend, the Dinos sealed a victory against the Lethbridge Pronghorns in their first meeting of a back-to-back series but were defeated the next night thanks to a strong defensive effort by the Pronghorns.
Fifth-year point guard Jarred Ogunbemi-Jackson posted 26 points against the Pronghorns in their first match up and another 15 the night followoing. Ogunbemi-Jackson is second in the conference in scoring, averaging 19.6 points per game as he looks to carry his team to nationals in his final year in a Dinos uniform. The Dinos squad features a mixture of experienced players and fresh faces that has proved to create a successful campaign for them so far in the season.
The last time both teams met was at Calgary’s Jack Simpson Gym last year, where the Vikes dropped the Dinos 92-64. Compared to last year, however, the Dinos have improved impressively as they already post more wins now than they did the entire season last year.
The Vikes will look to come away with a pocket of wins to try and secure the top of the pool, while the Dinos look to defend their first-place status and, ultimately, a qualifying spot at the CIS national championship being hosted at Toronto’s Ryerson University this March.
The weekend series tips off on Jan. 23 at 9:00 p.m. PT. The second game is on Jan. 24 at 8:00 pm PT. Both games will be available with live video and stats on uvic.canadawest.tv.