It’s been a dreamy start to the UVic Vikes basketball careers for Cordova Bay’s Marissa Dheensaw and Oak Bay’s Morgan Roskelley.
Growing up, the two 19-year-olds were former teammates in Victoria’s youth basketball night league. At the same time, they played against each other on their respective school teams.
And now they’re teammates at UVic, second-year players making regular contributions who are about to host the U Sports Women’s Basketball Final 8, March 9 to 12 at CARSA.
Despite being eliminated from the Canada West playoffs by the Winnipeg Wesmen on Feb. 25, the Vikes are confident in taking their host berth in the nationals seriously, Roskelley said.
“We don’t want to be that team that just shows up and loses their first game because we didn’t qualify, we want to be a contender to go all the way.”
For Dheensaw and Roskelley, playing nationals at home is another reason they’re happy they committed to UVic.
“It’s awesome, signing up we didn’t know we would [one day] host nationals,” Dheensaw said. “It’s really fun right now.”
(Inset photo: Morgan Roskelley, left, with Marissa Dheensaw, by Travis Paterson/News Staff.)
From Cordova Bay elementary to Royal Oak middle to the Claremont Spartans, Dheensaw recalls facing Roskelley on the floor, especially near the end of high school, when the Bays and Spartans met repeatedly in the city and Island finals (they did again this year too).
But it’s competitive on the court only, and always a good relationship off the court, Dheensaw said.
Of course, neither knew for sure they’d end up at the Vikes.
At six-feet tall, Dheensaw was a noted prospect with the Spartans. She had been in contact with Vikes coach Dani Sinclair (also involved in the night league) since before high school but had an idea to follow big sister Shalie, a Claremont grad who starred with the Washington State Cougars, in playing south of the border. A torn ACL in Grade 11 ended that plan, and interest faded when she was unable to play in her Grade 12 year. But Sinclair never closed the door to UVic.
“It didn’t matter to [Sinclair],” Dheensaw said. “I had decided if I was going to play in Canada it would be with the Vikes.”
Roskelley’s path to UVic was a little different. The five-foot-four guard was willing to give up on basketball when she was invited to Sinclair’s office in the fall of her Grade 12 year.
“My plan was to go to UVic anyways, I had a couple of offers [in Canada] but wanted to stay at home for school. I was not intrigued in going away,” Roskelley said. “But after Dani sent me that email I was relieved I could still play basketball, I didn’t want to quit.”
From Willows to Monterey to Oak Bay and then UVic, Roskelley’s never travelled far to reach her home court. And it doesn’t get any better than full-time access to the brand new $70 million CARSA facility.
“We seriously lucked out, in our first year we walked into CARSA, we missed all the construction, and now nationals,” Roskelley said.
The two aren’t the only locals on the Vikes. Roskelley’s Oak Bay teammate Andrea Psotka is also in her second year, while Claremont’s Calli McMillan and Pacific Christian’s Jasmine de Vries are rookies.
The University of Victoria’a Women’s basketball team hosts the Women’s National Basketball Championship March 9-12 and are looking for their community to come support them. For tournament information visit Shootscore.ca. For online tickets visit govikesgo.com/nationals.
B.C.’s homegrown players on UVic Vikes
Andrea Psotka, guard, Oak Bay – Oak Bay SecondaryMorgan Roskelley, guard, Oak Bay- Oak Bay SecondaryJenna Krug, guard, North Vancouver – Seycove SecondaryAleah Ashley, guard, Comox – Mark Isfeld SecondaryKristy Gallagher, North Saanich – Parkland SecondaryNicole Karstein, Kamloops – Sahali SecondaryCalli McMillan, guard, Saanich – Claremont SecondaryMarissa Dheensaw, Saanich – Claremont SecondaryJasmine de Vries, Saanich – Pacific Christian School(Red shirt) Claire De Mug, Kelowna – Kelowna Secondary