The University of Victoria Vikes men’s basketball team are hosting the Bishop’s Gaiters in pre-season play on Oct. 5 at Belmont Secondary School in Langford, B.C. at 7:00 p.m. In partnership with Westshore Basketball and Belmont Basketball, the Vikes are taking U SPORTS basketball to a community who was very active last week at CARSA taking in both the Raptors training camp and intrasquad game.
The Vikes are on the heels of an exciting pre-season already that included hosting Carleton, Concordia and Guelph, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, for the annual Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament in CARSA. The Vikes had a 1-2 record after posting a victory against Guelph in their opening game. The Vikes were trailing by just 14 points entering the final quarter to the seven-time defending U SPORTS champions, the Carleton Ravens, and have enjoyed the return of fourth-year guard Jordan Charles as well as forward Hayden Lejeune and fourth-year transfer and Victoria native Mason Loewen.
“Hayden Lejeune had his best weekend as a Vike and needs build off last weekend,” said Vikes head coach Craig Beaucamp. “One of the challenges in the Canada West is bringing your best performance every night and we are focused on putting together 40 minutes of solid play. We had some very good minutes in the tournament but we need to sustain that effort throughout the game.”
The Gaiters are still on the hunt for their first pre-season win after recent losses to Canisius, Northeastern, Hofstra, Queen’s and Ottawa. The Gaiters are lead by six-foot-four forward Abdul Kaman and second-year Joany Castor-Thadal. Last season the Gaiters were 2-14 in conference play. The Gaiters will head to Vancouver to play in the UBC Invitational tournament, Oct. 6-7, before facing Carleton and Acadia in the House-Laughton Tournament, Oct. 13-14.
Twenty-three Westshore players were invited to attend the Toronto Raptors skills clinic on Sept. 27, while many also took in the Raptors intrasquad match on Sept. 28. The Westshore players got to meet former Raptor Muggsy Bogues, as well as current Vikes players and Raptors players.
“Westshore Basketball kids are excited to see Vikes basketball players in our community,” said Brad Lidstone, Director and co-founder of Westshore basketball, an organization that has been running for six years now. “Two Vikes players visited Spencer Middle school last week, shot hoops with students and had a ‘Q and A’ session in the gym. Students see University players as role models. Seeing them play in our community gives kids the motivation and drive to push themselves to the highest level.”
Westshore Basketball has 22 teams in Night League Basketball, along with over 100 players participating in Westshore Rain, the kindergarten to Grade 4 program.
“Last year, the program had over 500 unique registrations and those numbers continue to grow thanks to events like the Vikes playing at Belmont,” added Lidstone.
The Belmont Pep Band, Breakwater Photography Photo Booth, concession and giveaways will be on hand for the game that is $5 per person (5 years and under are free). The halftime game will feature Westshore Basketball Under 11 boys teams.
“We are very excited about heading to the Westshore Thursday,” said Beaucamp. “It gives us an opportunity to help promote basketball in the region. Our fan base is from throughout the island so this is another opportunity to get out into the community that supports us.”