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Race for playoffs heats up

Kyle Vince and the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team hope to strengthen their hold on a Canada West playoff spot this weekend.

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Kyle Vince and the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team hope to strengthen their hold on a Canada West playoff spot this weekend. (FILE PHOTO)

The Brandon University Bobcats are currently sitting in a position they want to be when the Canada West men’s basketball season comes to an end.

The Bobcats (5-7) head into this weekend in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Prairie Division and they feel they’re continuing to get better. One thing Brandon has not been able to do this season, however, is record a weekend sweep.

There’s nothing the Bobcats would like to do more this weekend than to earn a sweep, when they host the Trinity Western Spartans (6-6) today at 8 p.m. and the 10th-ranked Fraser Valley Cascades (7-5) Saturday at 8 p.m.

"From now on in, our focus is to get better, but the sense of urgency is cranked to an all-time high," Bobcats head coach Gil Cheung said after his team made a public appearance at J.R. Reid School Thursday afternoon. "Of course we’d like to get two games this weekend, but I think every team in the country wants to do that. … We had a great week of practice and our focus is trying to get two (wins) this weekend."

The Bobcats will have their hands full at the BU Gymnasium against Trinity Western, which is riding a four-game winning streak and boasts the third-most potent offensive attack in the conference.

The Spartans are led offensively by Kyle Coston, who is sixth in the conference in scoring, averaging 19.8 points per game.

Things won’t get much easier Saturday when the Cascades, who split a pair of games with the seventh-ranked Victoria Vikes last weekend, come to town. The Cascades have a strong perimeter game with 32 per cent of their field goals coming from three-point range and six players, including scoring leaders Joel Friesen and Samuel Freeman, making more than 35 per cent of their three-point shots.

Cheung said the Bobcats will need to continue their strong team defensive play to contain both teams, but he’s a little worried about the Bobcats’ attack. Emerick Ravier will be out this weekend with a sprained knee, meaning the Bobcats are going with a bigger roster.

Fifth-year forward Kyle Vince knows this means everyone will have to step up their game offensively and he thinks the team is up for the challenge.

"It kind of changes up the way we want to play, but we have all types of guys who can score," said Vince, who is averaging 10.1 points per game. "As much as it hurts, other guys are going to step up and it’s going to be fun. … If you look at Mike Smith and Donovan Gayle, they’ve stepped up with their numbers (the last two games) and it’s good to see."

The Bobcats women’s basketball team (0-12) will also have its hands full this weekend when they host the Spartans

(6-6) today and 10th-ranked Cascades (9-3) on Saturday. Fraser Valley is currently riding a five-game winning streak while Trinity Western has won three of its last four. Both games tip off at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Bobcats women’s volleyball team (8-6) have a chance to clinch a playoff berth if they sweep the Thompson Rivers WolfPack

(4-10) today and tomorrow in Kamloops.

Once again, Shanlee McLennan will start at libero for BU in place of Lindsay McLaughlin, who’s out with a fractured wrist.

The Bobcats men’s volleyball team (7-7) is also in Kamloops and is looking to climb the Canada West standings when they take on the WolfPack

(3-11) today and on Saturday. The sixth-place Bobcats are just one win behind Alberta and UBC for third place in the conference.

» cjaster@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 20, 2012

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The Brandon University Bobcats are currently sitting in a position they want to be when the Canada West men’s basketball season comes to an end.

The Bobcats (5-7) head into this weekend in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Prairie Division and they feel they’re continuing to get better. One thing Brandon has not been able to do this season, however, is record a weekend sweep.

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The Brandon University Bobcats are currently sitting in a position they want to be when the Canada West men’s basketball season comes to an end.

The Bobcats (5-7) head into this weekend in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Prairie Division and they feel they’re continuing to get better. One thing Brandon has not been able to do this season, however, is record a weekend sweep.

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