Cascades open playoffs versus Dinos

A Chilliwack laden University of the Fraser Valley women's basketball team starts their playoff push against the University of Calgary.

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team clinched first place in the PACWest Pacific division, recording back to back wins over the Trinity Western Spartans.

The Cascades won 78-54 Thursday and 55-39 Saturday to finish the regular season with a record of 17-5.

Mission’s Aieisha Luyken led the way in the first game, exploding for 22 first half. Luyken went 7 of 11 from the field and six of six from the free throw line.

Luyken didn’t play in the second half and every player on the roster got at least five minutes of floor time.

Chilliwack native Sarah Wierks had 12 points.

Her four offensive rebounds moved her into a tie for No. 8 on the list of all-time Canada West leaders.

Collectively, the Cascades snatched 14 steals to help pad their conference-leading average of 12.2 per game.

An impressive third-quarter carried UFV to victory in the Saturday rematch. The Cascades held a slim three-point lead (22-19) at half-time, and came out of the break breathing fire.

A 16 point run turned this one into a laugher, punctuated by a Nataliia Gavriliuk three pointer.

The Ukranian import collected 12 points in the third quarter and 17 overall, along with eight rebounds and four assists.

Sarah Wierks had 12 points and seven rebounds, while her sister Nicole hit for nine points and 10 boards.

Another Chilliwackian, Courtney Bartel, drained four points and pulled down four rebounds.

Before the game, the Cascades honoured several seniors who will be departing after this year, including Sarah Wierks, Bartel and Chilliwack secondary school grad Alexa McCarthy.

“I was really happy tonight to thank our seniors for their five years of service,” said UFV coach Al Tuchscherer.  “I really enjoyed ending the season with a win and wrapping up a second Pacific division regular season title.  Everything resets now as we start our preparation for playing the Calgary Dinos.”

The Cascades open at home Feb. 27 against Calgary (13-9). Game two is Feb. 28 and game three (if necessary) is March 1.

The scheduling break is fortuitous for the Cascades, who have a pair of key players injured.

Luyken is nursing a sore ankle and Kayli Sartori (Chilliwack) is dealing with a concussion.

“If we were playing this week, we probably wouldn’t have either of those players,” Tuchscherer noted. “We’re hoping to have both of them back for next week, but you never know, especially with a concussion situation.”

The veteran Cascades crushed the youthful Dinos 60-36 on the first weekend of the regular season, but Tuchscherer expects a tougher test next week.

“They’ve had that much more experience to figure things out on offence and defence, and their chemistry is going to be better,” he said. “It’s going to be a different series, for sure.”