At times, it felt like a one on one battle between Quest's Cartiea French-Toney and VIU's Brandon Jones during Friday's (Jan. 17) game between the Kermodes and the Mariners.
And it one point it almost literally turned into one.
But it was the Kermodes team effort on both sides of the ball that helped earn them the 88-78 win.
Quest exploded with an 8-0 run to start the game but the Mariners fought back close until the final minute of the game. Kermodes head coach Sean Shook said a number of his players stepped up.
“We ran the floor hard and got to the glass early,” he said. “And we got some good, solid minutes from our bench. Mike Powell had an outstanding effort after having strep throat earlier this week and did everything we asked of him defensively. I thought Paul Getz played really well in spurts and Denzel Laguerta did the little things out there and had a great read on a set play and knocked down a big three.”
The battle between Jones and French-Toney escalated into a shoving match in the fourth quarter after Quest had the game in hand and Shook said French-Toney was a big difference maker against VIU.
“He's always motivated and in his mind he believes he's the best guard in the league,” Shook said. “He wants to play like he did tonight every night and he brings us some of that swagger that we've never had before – and he can back it up.”
French-Toney picked up 26 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and six steals to lead Quest to victory. Jones picked up 43 but took 35 shots in the process. Shook said Jones will always find a way to get on the scoreboard.
"He's a really good player but if he's going to shoot that much we want to make sure no one else gets 18 or 20 points and no one else on VIU got in double digits,” he said.
Shook said Powell and Mike Zayas-Duran did a good job making Jones work for his points. He also praised the play of sharpshooter Jose Colorado, who caught fire in the second half and put up 18 points.
“Jose really got rolling in the second half and made some tough shots for us,” he said.
French-Toney said he'd been circling the game against VIU on his calendar.
“I get up for every game but I was ready all week and was locked in,” he said. “I feel like we can't be beat in our gym and it felt good to hear the fans – you can really feel the energy.”
He said the minor scuffle with Jones was nothing personal and was just two athletes being competitive. He added that he wants to be thought of as in the same ecehelon as players like Jones and Brody Greig from Langara.
It was a different story for the Quest women's team, as they lost their first regular game since Nov. 16, 2013.
The Kermodes fell 73-70 to the Mariners and it was mental errors and foul trouble that haunted the team.
“VIU is a great team,” said Quest head coach Dany Charlery, noting that they are undefeated in Pacwest regular season play. “I felt like we did what we had to do tonight, we outrebounded them but we took too many fouls.”
Quest was charged with 30 fouls compared to VIU's 17 but Charlery said there's no use in blaming the officials.
“It's not the reffing – I told the girls that they have to make adjustments and we just didn't do that tonight,” he said.
One of the game's turning points occurred with 34 seconds left and the Kermodes trailing 70-67. Quest forward Shayna Cameron intentionally fouled VIU's Jocelyn Jones despite a full shot clock. Charlery said it was miscommunication between the coaching staff and the players that led to the play.
Cameron led the way for Quest with 18 points, while Katrin Sandbichler added eight rebounds and four assists. Cynthia Lau picked up four steals in the loss.
For the Mariners, Jones dominated with 32 points including 13 of 16 from the charity stripe. Charlery said it's not his team's nature to double team players and that he believes his team can find ways to stop her if they meet again in the playoffs.
Both teams return to on Saturday (Jan. 18) afternoon with games against Camosun College. The women tip-off at 1 p.m., with the men getting underway at 3 p.m.