Cascades women opening Canada West playoffs
It's playoff time again for the UFV Cascades women's basketball team starting today (Friday).
But it's also the final time that graduating women's basketball star Kayli Sartori will step foot on home court.
The women host the Calgary Dinos for a best-of-three series, with games running today and tomorrow (Saturday). Game three, if necessary, occurs on Sunday.
UFV and Calgary split the two games they played, with the Dinos winning 69-59 on Jan. 12 and the Cascades winning 69-60 on Jan. 13. Both of those games took place in Calgary.
The third quarter was crucial in both games in January, as the Dinos outscored UFV 33-15 in their win, while the Cascades outpaced Calgary 32-16 in the third in their triumph.
The Cascades placed eighth in Canada West with a record of 12 wins and eight losses, while the Dinos finished ninth at a record of 11 wins and nine losses.
On paper, the series could be a defensive struggle. Both teams were in the middle of the pack offensively – Calgary scored 63.5 points per game in the regular season to rank 10th out of 17 teams in Canada West, while UFV was 11th at 62.7.
And both were among the better defensive squads in the conference: the Cascades (62.4 points allowed per game) and Dinos (62.6 points allowed) ranking sixth and seventh, respectively.
But Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer believes both teams have the talent to light up the scoreboard.
"I look at Calgary as a team who can really dictate the pace of the game," he said. "If you don't control that a bit, their offence can really get going and get away from you. They have some kids who can really attack the hoop off the dribble. I think some of their stats are deceptive in terms of what they can do offensively.
"We're a team that takes pride in how we defend, and we've had times this year where we've been a very good defensive team. That's going to have to show itself this weekend, for sure."
Sartori, who finished fifth in Canada West scoring this season at 16.5 points per game, will be a key for the Cascades as she suits up for her final set of games at the Envision Athletic Centre. Guard Syd Williams, who lit up the Dinos with seven three-pointers in the Cascades win on Jan. 13 will also be another factor for the home side.
Game one tips off at 6 p.m., game two at 5 p.m. and game three, if necessary, occurs at 5 p.m.
The men travel to Manitoba to open the playoffs for the second straight year, hoping for a better result than last year's two-game sweep at the hands of the Bisons.
The opponent is different this year, as the Cascades opened against the Winnipeg Wesmen yesterday, falling 82-76 in game one.
Winnipeg rallied late, putting together an 18-0 run to pick up the win. Manny Dulay led UFV with 15 points but the Cascades top stars Dulay and Vijay Dhillon made only 7 of 25 total shots. Anthony Gilchrist grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds in the loss.
Game two is today at 1 p.m, while game three, if necessary, occurs tomorrow at 1 p.m.
Winnipeg and UFV are not exactly familiar foes, as the teams haven't met in the regular season the last two years. They last battled each other in the 2015 preseason, with UFV winning 71-64 at the Wesmen's Lea Marc Printing tournament.
UFV finished the season with a record of 11 wins and nine losses, while the Wesmen had a record of 12 wins and eight losses.
Winnipeg is a dangerous team offensively, averaging the fifth-most points in Canada West at 82.3. Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said his team needs to keep it simple.
"They've got a lot of team speed, they're very aggressive on both ends of the floor, and if we allow them to get out in transition we're going to make life really hard on ourselves," he said. "We've got to play aggressive ourselves, but be smart, avoid trying to play too much one-on-one, and really value making the simple play."
UFV's great equalizer is its outside shooting – the Cascades ranked second in Canada West in three-point percentage (38.0) and in triples made (199) and attempted (523). The fifth-year backcourt duo of Dulay and Dhillon will need to be dialling long distance frequently for the Cascades to advance. UFV has played much improved basketball since the holiday break, winning eight of 12 to head into the postseason hot.
The next round of the Canada West playoffs gets underway starting on Feb. 23.