Vikes hoops Brandon bound with playoff picture in sight

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By Ali Lee, Vikes Communications

(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – With just four regular season games left in the Canada West men’s basketball season the CIS No. 7-ranked University of Victoria Vikes are closing in on their post-season picture. The Vikes (12-4) have one road weekend, Feb. 6-7, against Brandon (1-17) and will close out at home, Feb. 13-14, against Trinity Western (1-15).

Despite both the Bobcats and Spartans only logging one win so far this season, the Vikes are wisely anticipating a gritty battle for their final four games. This weekend will be the last home games for the Bobcats and they will have little pressure with playoffs already out of the question.

“There is a lot of parody in this league,” described Craig Behan, Vikes men’s basketball assistant coach. “You can’t count any team out. Brandon has the opportunity and capacity to be more competitive and record isn’t always a clear indication of a team’s ability. Brandon are a quick, athletic team that can get hot and pose problems for us.”

Not taking anything for granted, the Vikes will undoubtedly continue to look to their go-to seniors Chris McLaughlin and Marcus Tibbs. Following last weekend’s two wins over Lethbridge, McLaughlin was named Canada West 1st Star of the Week. The fifth-year captain nabbed his eighth double-double this season and is fourth in the conference in scoring (19.2 PPG) and rebounding (9.9 RBG). Tibbs is averaging 15.9 points per game. The duo combined for 52 of the Vikes’ 66 points in their Jan. 31 victory over the Pronghorns.

“We will be looking to improve our execution and be a lot more consistent at creating higher percentage opportunities,” added Behan. “We also know we have to keep playing good, tough defence, especially on the road.”

Brandon will have their go-to duo on the floor as well as fifth-year guard Kenonte Ramsey is second on the team in scoring (15.5 PPG) and tagged as a one of the team’s top shooters. Ramsey along with the talented DJ Jordan (15.9 PPG) help drive the speed and athleticism that the Bobcats exhibit. Jordan is the team’s point guard and has already proved his versatility both in scoring and play making. Both Ramsey and Jordan are transfers from American colleges.

The Vikes will need to utilize their depth to be able to run with the Bobcats and that will include the steady defensive efforts of fourth year Reiner Theil, as well as quality minutes from each of Mack Roth,Jordan Charles, Patrick Pilato and Grant Sitton.

“We’ve been able to find the ways to win,” said Behan about the Vikes who have needed last-ditch efforts in a few tight games with unranked teams. “It’s really in our hands now and we have to get the job done. We know it won’t be easy. We will have to do the work.”

The Vikes will travel to Brandon, Man. to play two games against the Bobcats on Feb. 6 and 7. Friday’s affair will take place at 6 p.m. PT and Saturday will tip of at 5 p.m. PT. Both games will be available live at uvic.canadawest.tv.

Playoff notes: Should the Vikes finish in the top three of the Pioneer Division, they will host the Canada West Quarter-Finals in a best-of-three series on Feb. 27, Feb. 28 and Mar. 1 (if necessary). Winners of the quarter-finals will play in the Canada West Final Four hosted at the highest overall seed on Mar. 6-7.