Chilliwack’s Sartori leads Cascades against NCAA foes

The University of the Fraser Valley women's basketball team tests itself against the Wisconsin Badgers and Florida Atlantic Owls.

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team tips off its preseason schedule next week, as they host a pair of NCAA Division 1 opponents at the Envision Athletic Centre.

The Cascades take on the Wisconsin Badgers on Wednesday, Aug. 10, and the Florida Atlantic Owls on Friday, Aug. 12. Both games start at 7 p.m., and admission is free.

“For us, it’s a good opportunity to have a focus period in our summer – to bring everybody together, work on a few of our systems things, and then have a couple of tests to see how some of that stuff works,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said.

“It gives us a bit of a break from individual skill development that typically takes place through the spring and summer. It also gives our new kids their first opportunity to play in games for us, and you throw them right into the fire against Division 1 opponents. It’s a bit of a survival mode.”

The host Cascades are coming off a season which saw them go 13-7 in Canada West conference play and earn a sixth straight playoff appearance. Chilliwack native Kayli Sartori had a spectacular campaign, winning the conference scoring title (18.4 points per game) and earning Canada West first team all-star and CIS second team All-Canadian honours. Forward Taylor Claggett, a Canada West all-rookie selection in 2015-16, and guards Kate Head and Sydney Williams are among the key returnees for the Cascades, who are assimilating seven newcomers to their roster.

The University of Wisconsin’s athletic program is one of the largest and most successful in the nation, but the Badgers women’s basketball team is coming off a tough 2015-16 season which saw them post a 7-22 record, including 3-15 in Big 10 conference action. The Badgers will have a new look this year, with new head coach Jonathan Tsipis – the 2015 Atlantic 10 conference coach of the year at George Washington University – guiding a roster which features six freshmen, two transfers and only three seniors.

Florida Atlantic, a member of Conference USA, went 14-16 last season, including 6-12 in conference play. The Owls are a dangerous team from beyond the arc, setting conference records for three-pointers made (294) and attempted (839) in a season. Junior guard Kat Wright set a school record and tied the Conference USA mark with 11 three-pointers in a game.