The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team will face the Saint Mary’s Huskies in their CIS Final 8 opener Friday morning.
The Cascades are making their first appearance in the national tournament, capping a journey that started seven years ago.UFV joined the CIS circuit in 2006, and have steadily improved each season.
The team broke several school records this year.
Their 18-4 record squashed the previous mark (12) for wins in a season.
The team was ranked No. 1 in the CIS Top-10 poll for two weeks and never dropped below fourth.
“Making our first appearance at the Final 8 is another accomplishment and another first for this team,” said head coach Al Tuchscherer, who has guided the UFV crew the last 11 seasons, dating back to their time in the CCAA (Canadian Colleges Athletic Association).
Tuchscherer is one of the founders of the Junior Cascade Program, where junior and high school student-athletes can hone their skills in preparation for participating in CIS women’s varsity basketball.
Twelve current Cascades have gone through the program, and the core of the team has played together for years.
Mission’s Aieisha Luyken was UFV’s top scorer this season with a 13.2 points-per-game average.
Chilliwack’s Sarah Wierks averaged 12.6 ppg and produced 9.6 rebounds per game. Tuchscherer has many weapons and a deep bench to call upon, a valuable thing in a short tournament.
Seven different players averaged four or more points per game for UFV and six different Cascades led the team in scoring during the regular and post season.
Seven different Cascades led in rebounding and in 12 regular season games, every player on the roster scored two or more points.
Defensively, UFV held their opponents to under 10 points in a quarter 12 times this season. Their tenacious D forced opponents to commit 580 turnovers in 22 regular season games.
The venue for this weekend’s three-day tournament is a familar one.
UFV visited the University of Regina Cougars Centre for Kinesiology, Health and Sport three times this year.
The Cascades participated in two Cougar-hosted preseason events, earning a record of 4-2 with wins over the Cougars and Carleton Ravens. In the regular season UFV lost a 59-55 nail biter to the Cougars Dec. 1.