Men set sights on nationals
They defeated the top-ranked team to qualify for their fourth consecutive national tournament.
The reward for the UNBC Northern Timberwolves is the top seed entering the eight-team Canadian Colleges Athletic Association men’s basketball nationals March 15 to 17 in Truro, N.S.
In Saturday’s PacWest provincial final, UNBC outscored the Vancouver Island University Mariners 69-61.
“They’ve been our rivals for a number of years, and every time we beat them it’s always a big accomplishment for us,” Timberwolves head coach Todd Jordan said.
When the Timberwolves return to the court for a meaningful game, the Red Deer College Kings of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference will be the opposition. The Timberwolves and Kings will meet on March 15 at 9 a.m. (1 p.m. Atlantic).
“The Number 1 seed is nice to have, but we definitely can’t relax because we got it,” Jordan said.
The field of teams entering the tournament in Truro is rounded out by: the No. 2 Mount Royal College Cougars (Alberta champion); No. 3 Indiens d’Ahuntsic (Quebec champion); No. 4 Mohawk Mountaineers (Ontario champion); No. 5 Vanier College Cheetahs (Quebec wildcard); No. 6 St. Thomas University Tommies (Atlantic champion); and Mount St. Vincent University Mystics (Atlantic wildcard).
Among the players who stepped up for UNBC at provincials were a trio of fourth-year guards: Francis Rowe, Sam Raphael and Joel Rybachuk. Rowe was named Tournament MVP and led the Timberwolves with 16 points in the championship game. Rybachuk collected 12 points in being named Player of the Game in the final, while Raphael was named a tournament all-star.
In the semfinals, UNBC downed Camosun 93-84 and VIU outscored Capilano 67-57. Camosun edged Capilano 84-78 on Saturday for bronze.
UNBC is the first institution in B.C. to win men’s and women’s provincial college basketball gold in the same season since the University College of the Fraser Valley in the 2003-04 campaign.