Cascades basketball teams hit the road to face WolfPack


CW slider-Nov20The University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams face one of their toughest tests of the regular season this weekend, as they hit to the road to play the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.

In the preseason Canada West coaches’ polls, the WolfPack were picked to finish second behind the Cascades in the Explorers Division on both the men’s and the women’s sides. That projection has held true in the early going – the UFV teams hold sole possession of first place in the Explorers Division with matching 4-0 records, while the TRU squads both sit second at 3-1.

Thus, the games this Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) between the Cascades and WolfPack have major implications in terms of the standings, and there’s an added degree of difficulty for UFV since they’ll be played at TRU’s home gym, the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops. The games will be webcast at

“Probably the biggest challenge we’re going to have is playing Thompson Rivers at Thompson Rivers,” acknowledged Cascades women’s coach Al Tuchscherer. “I think everybody’s excited. They’re an outstanding team, and we’ve had a lot of really good battles with them over the years.”

On the women’s side, the WolfPack’s rebounding prowess poses a particular challenge for the Cascades. TRU leads the conference that department by a huge margin, hauling in 53.5 boards per game, well ahead of the next two teams on the rebounding chart, Regina (45.8) and UFV (44.0).

Two elite carom collectors will be in action – UFV’s Sarah Wierks and TRU’s Michelle Bos. Wierks, a 6’2” fifth-year centre from Chilliwack, is one of Canada West’s all-time great rebounders, sitting eighth all-time with 786 in total, and she ranks third in the conference this season at 11 rebounds per game. Bos, a 5’10” rookie out of Surrey, leads Canada West with 13.8 boards per game.

Nataliia Gavryliuk (17 points per game), Wierks (16) and Katie Brink (13.2) are the Cascades’ top scorers, while the WolfPack’s offensive leaders are Kassie Colonna (15.5), Bos (12.5) and Taiysa Worsfeld (11).

“They’re a veteran team – they’re smart and they run their stuff well,” Tuchscherer said of TRU. “They rebound the ball well, they defend well, and they execute their offence very well. They’re a tough match-up for anybody.

“We’re getting better every week, I think – closer to how we want to play. Still a lot of work we’ve got to put in, but small steps are every week.”

The Cascades men come into the weekend boasting one of the conference’s top defences – they’re second in points allowed (67 per game) and fourth in opponents’ field goal percentage (37.9 per cent). But coming off a subpar offensive showing in last Saturday’s 62-60 home win over UNBC, which saw UFV hit just 35.2 per cent of its attempts from the field, head coach Adam Friesen is looking for a more cohesive offensive performance against the WolfPack.

“We’re looking to start becoming more of a consistent offensive team,” he said. “Defensively, what we’re holding teams to should be enough to win. But we should be winning by more than we have the last four games.”

The Cascades attack is balanced, with five players averaging double-figure scoring, led by post players Jasper Moedt (13.2 points per game) and Nate Brown (13.0). Moedt ranks fourth in Canada West with nine rebounds per game, while Manny Dulay’s 57.1 per cent success rate from beyond the three-point arc is second-best in the conference.

The WolfPack counter with 6’10” fourth-year forward Josh Wolfram, who is second in the conference in both scoring (21 points per game) and rebounding (11.8). Reese Pribilsky (12.8 points, 4.2 assists per game) and Brett Rouault (13.7 points per game) are key contributors in the backcourt.

“They’re tall, they’re physical, and then on the outside they have some real quickness,” Friesen said. “Pribilsky has the ability to hit tough shots, and Wolfram can really shoot it.”

The Cascades’ next home games are Nov. 28-29, when they host the MacEwan Griffins at the Envision Athletic Centre to wrap up the first semester.