Vikes women's basketball team sends Giannattasio out a winner in playoff opener

The sounds of “Ahaamiiira” on the PA, after baskets by the third all-time leading scorer in University of Victoria Vikes women’s basketball history, rang off the walls of CARSA gym for the final time Friday night.

Guard Amira Giannattasio scored 26 points in her final appearance on Ken and Kathy Shields Court in leading the Vikes to an 80-61 Canada West playoff victory over the Fraser Valley Cascades. The Vikes are assured to be on the road for the rest of the playoffs, beginning next week in the best-of-three quarter-finals against an opponent that was not known by press time.

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“It was pretty emotional. I’m glad to end on a win at home,” said Giannattasio, whose 1,539 career points for the Vikes are behind only two-time Olympian Carol Turney-Loos (1,646) and former Belmont star Lisa Koop (1,660).

“We knew it was a one-game playoff and there was no Saturday night to come back to … but we stayed calm and relaxed.”

Giannattasio said it still hasn’t sunk in that she has played her final game inside Ring Road.

“We’re still in the midst of the playoffs, so it will probably hit me when it’s all done,” said the native of Hamilton, Ont.

“I’ll think back to all the teammates that kept me going over five seasons and got me my looks [at the basket].”

The conference seventh-seed Vikes’ ball-hawking defence a key to victory against the 10th-seed Cascades.

“We got a lot of points off steals and offensive rebounds,” said Vikes head coach Dani Sinclair.

Haily Weaver was especially rugged on defence for the Vikes, hounding Cascades star Taylor Claggett all night. Claggett had 16 points but Weaver held her to 50 per cent from the field.

Offensively, Morgan Roskelley provided an important 15 points of secondary scoring for UVic and Calli McMillan 12.

“[Roskelley] was huge tonight. We know they are going to key on Amira, so we have to get scoring from other people,” said Sinclair.

“Starting [next season], we are not going to get 26 points a night from Amira. But hopefully we have a lot more time left with her through the post-season.”

MEN’S PLAYOFFS: Just as they did in their two regular-season meetings, the Lethbridge Pronghorns ripped the UVic Vikes in their first-round, single-game playoff Friday in southern Alberta.

The conference seventh-seed Pronghorns, the highest scoring team in Canada West, defeated the Vikes 98-65.

Jake Newman and Jordan Charles closed out their Vikes careers with 16 points each while fellow-graduating Mason Loewen ended with seven points. Third-year Vikes guard Scott Kellum scored 14 points.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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