Men's basketball team punch their ticket to Provincial Championships
Vikings gaurd David Shantz makes a layup early in the second half of a 72-69 victory Feb. 22. Shantz had 15 pts and shot 46 per cent from the floor for the Vikings.
The University of Alberta, Augustana Vikings men's basketball team has punched their ticket to the ACAC Provincial Championships with a come from behind victory over the Medicine Hat Rattlers Feb. 22.
The Vikings won by a final score of 72-69, battling back after giving up the lead late in the third quarter and trailing for most of the second half.
Determined to push through injuries and fighting to gain momentum after it swung to the Rattlers, the Vikings squad seemed driven to finish strong.
“I was just thinking that I had to fight through injury and get my adrenaline going so we could push through and make sure we advance because I didn’t want my season to be over,” said forward Shayn Bruney.
The fifth year will live to see another game in the ACAC after a pair of his teammates hit back to back three point field goals, turning the tide of the game with just under two minutes to play. The Vikings solidified the victory by making their free throws late when the Rattlers started fouling.
“Don’t let my season end,” he told the Canadian moments after the final buzzer. “The last message to the guys (was) just to put everything into basketball every single day and let it play out.”
It was a hard fought victory, but the Vikings may have had a little extra incentive after being projected to lose the contest by ACAC writer Curtis J. Phillips.
“Well the ACAC website had us picked to lose this one, so what does that mean for us? it means we corrected the skid,” said head coach dave drabiuk. “We were in a four game losing streak coming into this. It means another step forward in the progress of our program.”
Drabiuk said he was impressed with the resiliency of his team after they fell behind late.
“All of the things that we talked about in the locker room before the game about playing as a team and for each other, when we had that lull and let them back in the game we lost that, but we found our identity at the end,” he said.
In a situation so full of emotion, momentum and drama it would have been easy for the Vikings to self destruct. But the team stayed positive and Drabiuk said that is something he has been working on as a coach this year.
“We’re very much about trying to keep it positive...that’s been one of my projects personally this year,” he said. “The players have told me look, the energy from you needs to be positive and constant. If you’re just blindly yelling stuff off the bench it’s white noise... we just need to keep being reminded of those two or three key mantras about playing as a team and selling out, so that’s what we tried to do.”
The late game heroics may have galvanized this team at the perfect time, heading into the Provincials hosted by Kenyano next weekend Drabiuk said anything is possible.
“We’re going and it’s just like everyone always says in March Madness, we’ve got a ticket to the dance so we’ve got a chance.”