Basketball Cascades coming of age

Dan Kinvig,

Black Press

After enduring two building seasons, University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball coach Al Tuchscherer is finally beginning to enjoy the fruits of his labour.

Tuchscherer’s Cascades engineered an impressive upset victory on Friday, knocking off the Alberta Pandas 69-63 at the Envision Athletic Centre.

The Pandas boasted a Canada West-leading 12-2 record coming in, and were No. 7 in the national rankings.

The Pandas bounced back to split the two-game set, winning 70-52 on Saturday, but it’s clear that the best is yet to come for the youthful Cascades.

With the exception of veterans Alyssa Gaukel and Tessa Klassen, every player on the roster is in their first or second year of eligibility.

The roster includes five Chilliwack natives; Gaukel, Alexa McCarthy, Sarah Wierks, Nicole Wierks and Courtney Bartel.

At 8-8 on the season, UFV is currently seventh in Canada West, but at the rate they’re improving on a game-to-game basis, the upper echelon doesn’t seem so far away.

“The mindset is different than it was last year,” Tuchscherer said, reflecting on his team’s performance this season after going a combined 6-35 over the previous two Canada West campaigns. “There’s higher expectations (internally). We know we can play with these teams.

“Every game is a learning process for us. It’s exciting, and the players are hungry for that.”