The Camosun Chargers’ December break is too long for Brett Westcott’s basketball calendar.
To break the month up, the Chargers women’s coach runs Camosun’s annual holiday tournament for the express reason of keeping his players sharp.
So when the Vancouver Island Mariners backed out of the Chargers’ third and final match of the holiday tournament, which was set for Sunday (Dec. 30), Westcott didn’t hesitate to organize a new opponent.
“We wanted to play, it didn’t matter to us who,” Westcott said on Sunday. The Chargers did play, and won a lopsided game over a mixed team of alumni and local night-leaguers, who wore the Chargers blue practice pinnies.
Overall the tournament proved successful for the Chargers, who went 3-0.
After winning just three of the first eight league games this fall, including a one-point win over the Langara Falcons (3-5), the Chargers clicked into gear for the holidays. They beat the visiting Falcons by 18 on Saturday and Hamilton’s Mohawk Mountaineers by 23 on Friday.
The wins prove a consensus theory in the bleachers that this team is starting to come together. Julia Murray goes to the floor for a ball against Kwantlen earlier this season. Kevin Light Photography.
“Coming out of exams we didn’t have any games for a month, so it’s important to play. I thought at times (during the tournament) we played well, at other times it looked like we hadn’t played before,” Westcott said. “I’m disappointed in the first half of the season, but judging by how Mohawk did against the other teams, I guess we played better than we thought.”
To watch the Chargers is to see a team that wins by committee, with a fairly even share of talent across the team.
Third-year Elyse Matthews (Stelly’s secondary) leads the Chargers in points scored with an average of 12 per game. It’s fifth in the PacWest but is far off the dominant 19.6 ppg pace of league-leader Amonda Francis (Douglas Royals).
But with Chargers’ guard Ella Goldschmid (Mount Douglas secondary) right behind Matthews with 11 ppg (eighth in the PacWest), the picture begins to unfold.
Goldschmid is also ninth in the PacWest in assists, and is part of the Chargers’ rebuilt attack after the departure of Aija Salvador, who was central to the team’s offence.
“It’d be nice if (Saturday’s) win over Langara was a league game, but even though it doesn’t count (in the standings), it gives us much more confidence going ahead,” Goldschmid said.
The sophomore is part of a Victoria-heavy roster, rich with first and second year players. The team is so young, Goldschmid is undecided about coming back for another year of university transfer courses. The Chargers know they’re better than their 3-5 record suggests, she added, and are ready to punch their way into the playoffs now that the second stage of the season is here.
“It’s tempting to think how good we can be next year, even this year,” Goldschmid said.
“The top seven (of eight) teams are all competitive, as long as we get into the playoffs, anybody can win,” Westcott said.
Tonight’s (Jan. 4) game between the Mariners and Chargers, in Nanaimo, was cited as the main reason for VIU’s cancellation on Sunday.
Friday (Jan. 11) and Saturday (Jan. 12) the Chargers host the Langara Falcons and Douglas Royals, women play at 6 p.m. and men at 8 p.m.
The Chargers men finished the first half with wins over Kwantlen and the CBC Bearcats, the team’s first two wins of the season.
Women short, men split in Cali
The UVic Vikes men’s basketball team closed out their California tour with a 96-88 loss to the No. 19-ranked NAIA team, Concordia University-Irvine Eagles on Sunday (Dec. 30). Terrell Evans led the Vikes with 18 points. The men won their first game, 55-52 over the Biola Eagles of La Mirada.
Third-year Vike Jessica Renfrew led the Vikes women’s team with 31 points in the second of their two-game exhibition series in California. The Vikes fell with a 72-62 loss to Vanguard University, a strong No. 3-ranked NAIA team. The Vikes women lost to Biola 63-43 in their other game.