UFV basketball teams to honour graduating seniors

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Kadeem Willis, Jasper Moedt, Sarah Wierks and Celeste Dyck (from left) are approaching the end of their fifth and final seasons of eligibility.

This weekend’s basketball games at the University of the Fraser Valley’s Envision Athletic Centre mark the end of an era, as four pillars of the Cascades men’s and women’s programs play their last Canada West regular season home games for the green and white.

Graduating fifth-year players Jasper Moedt and Kadeem Willis will be taking their final bows for the UFV men’s team, while the women’s squad will recognize fellow fifth-years Sarah Wierks and Celeste Dyck.

The opponent for the occasion will be the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, and games run Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the EAC. Saturday will be Senior Night, with presentations to the grads between the women’s and men’s games.

Moedt is the most tenured of the bunch – his stint with the men’s basketball program dates back to the fall of 2008, when he arrived on campus fresh off helping Abbotsford’s Yale Secondary Lions to the first AAA provincial championship in school history. His time at UFV was extended from the standard five years to seven due to a pair of redshirt seasons.

Over the years, Moedt has emerged as the heart and soul of the team – the heir apparent to fellow post players and team leaders like Kyle Graves and Kyle Grewal. The 6’7” centre was a key figure on the breakthrough 2011-12 squad which won the Canada West silver medal and finished fourth at nationals, and he earned conference second team all-star honours last season and led the team back to the Canada West Final Four. This year, he’s second in Canada West rebounding at 10.5 boards per game and is third on the Cascades in scoring at 11.6 points per game.

“It’s been pretty great playing at UFV,” said Moedt, who is currently tied for seventh on the conference’s all-time double-doubles list with 26.

“Obviously there’s been ups and downs, but overall, my experience at UFV has been unreal and exceeded my expectations going in, from a personal growth standpoint. I’ve met a lot of people, learned a lot of things.”

Willis, a 6’4” power forward, transferred to UFV from the Lakeland College Rustlers of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) in 2013. He made an instant impact, finishing fourth in team scoring last season at 10.5 points per game and adding 6.7 rebounds per game.

The Toronto native has been even better in 2014-15, upping his scoring average to 11.3 despite moving from the starting lineup to the bench due to the team’s incredible depth in the post.

The highlight of Willis’s senior year came in the preseason vs. the Brock Badgers. With family and friends making the trip to St. Catharines, Ont. to cheer him on, he racked up 40 points on an incredibly rare perfect shooting night – 17-for-17 from the field including 3-for-3 from beyond the three-point arc, plus 3-for-3 from the free throw line.

“I’m sad about it, but then again, I’m ready for it,” said Willis, contemplating the end of his university hoops career. “I’ve played a while now, and I hope to continue playing basketball after. For now, I can just look to be a leader. All the stuff I learned throughout my five years really helped me in my life.

“It’s been a great ride for me.”

Women’s basketball fifth-years Wierks and Dyck have been part of an unparalleled run of success since arriving on campus together in 2010.

Their rookie season, 2010-11, marked the first time the Cascades qualified for the Canada West Final Four, and they made a return trip each of the next three years, culminating in a conference silver medal and a CIS bronze medal in 2013-14.

For Wierks, who ranks second in conference scoring at 19.6 points per game, the last weekend of the regular season represents a chance to put the finishing touches on the greatest rebounding season in Canada West history.

The 6’2” centre out of Chilliwack Secondary has already set single-game conference records for offensive rebounds (12), defensive rebounds (20) and total rebounds (31) this year, and has moved into second place on the all-time Canada West list with 1,027 total boards to date.

She’s in range of three more prestigious records. It’s likely that she’ll set a new mark for rebounds in a season – she’s snared 285 boards thus far in 2014-15, just six shy of the record of 291 shared by Jodi Evans (Calgary, 1990-91) and Sarah Crooks (Saskatchewan, 2006-07). And if she can maintain her CIS-leading rebounding average of 15.8 per game, she’ll shatter Evans’s mark of 14.5 (also established in 1990-91).

Crooks holds the mark for double-doubles in a season with 18 (2006-07), but Wierks is at 16 and has a chance to tie her with two more vs. TRU. (It’s worth noting that teams played 22 games in 2006-07, rather than the current 20).

Whereas Wierks started and starred from Day 1 at UFV, point guard Dyck’s career followed a different path.

A relatively unheralded recruit out of Abbotsford’s Yale Secondary, Dyck had to work her way into the rotation, and she succeeded in that respect while establishing herself as a key backup and energetic presence in the locker room.

With the graduation of star point guard Aieisha Luyken following the 2013-14 campaign, Dyck took over the starting job this season and has put up impressive numbers. She’s fourth on the team in scoring at 11.0 points per game while shooting an extremely efficient 48.9 per cent from the field, sixth-best in Canada West. She also ranks sixth in the conference in assists, averaging 4.0 per game.

For more information on the UFV athletic department, including multimedia coverage, live webcasts, ticketing and campus recreation, visit ufvcascades.ca.

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