Basketball Cascades enjoyed California Christmas

Two losses didn't dampen spirits as the UFV womens' basketball team made a post-Boxing Day trip to face NCAA competition.

The University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams had productive jaunts to sunny stateside destinations between Christmas and New Year’s, as they began to prepare in earnest for the second semester of Canada West play.

The Cascades women’s basketball team traveled to Arizona for a pair of exhibition games against National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) squads, and came home with a split. They dropped a 63-56 decision to the Glendale Community College Gauchos on Saturday, Dec. 27, and bounced back for a 64-50 triumph over the Phoenix College Bears the next day.

“It was a good getaway for us, and I think it was super positive for where we are now,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “Night two was a huge improvement over night one, for sure. It was one of our better games in a while, actually. We had a little bit of continuity, and a bunch of people stepped up and did some good things. That’s what we’re looking for.”

The Cascades turned in a solid defensive effort against Phoenix College, limiting the Bears to 31 per cent shooting from the field while hitting 42 per cent themselves.

Power forward Shayna Litman paced the offence with 22 points, while Nataliia Gavryliuk, who had missed UFV’s last four games of the first semester due to injury, returned to score 12 points – all on shots from beyond the arc. Chilliwack’s Sarah Wierks chipped in with 12 rebounds in the victory.

“(Litman) really figured some things out in that game,” said Tuchscherer, whose team sits third in the Explorers Division of Canada West with a 4-4 record. “Her approach before Christmas was fantastic, and the sky is the limit for Shayna.”

The UFV men’s basketball team headed to Costa Mesa, Calif. for the Bill Reynolds Holiday Classic, an exhibition tournament hosted by the Vanguard University Lions. The Cascades, who lead the Explorers Division at 8-0 and are ranked No. 9 in the CIS, dropped both of their games, falling 87-73 to the Northwestern College Red Raiders of Iowa on Dec. 30 and 77-56 to host Vanguard on Dec. 31. Both Northwestern and Vanguard are National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) programs, and Vanguard is the reigning NAIA national champion.

The next league games for the Cascades are at home versus the Mount Royal Cougars, on Friday and Saturday at the Envision Athletic Centre in Abbotsford.