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Basketball returns to the Envision Athletics Centre for 2013

The Envision Athletic Centre was abuzz this past weekend with the return of Cascades basketball for the second semester. The season thus far has proven to be highly successful with the men’s team holding down fourth in the country, and the womens team coming off the break newly-minted as the nation’s number one team. After a Friday night that saw the women’s team roll to another easy victory over the visiting University of Saskatchewan Huskies and the men’s team come out flat and putter to an underwhelming defeat, the real show began on Saturday night.

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By Jasper Moedt (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: January 16, 2013

The Envision Athletic Centre was abuzz this past weekend with the return of Cascades basketball for the second semester. The season thus far has proven to be highly successful with the men’s team holding down fourth in the country, and the women’s team coming off the break newly-minted as the nation’s number one team.  After a Friday night that saw the women’s team roll to another easy victory over the visiting University of Saskatchewan Huskies and the men’s team come out flat and putter to an underwhelming defeat, the real show began on Saturday night.

To open the evening, the women’s team put on an absolute clinic, leaving no doubt in the minds of the spectators that this team is for real. Instead of one or two outstanding players to shoulder the load surrounded by some decent role players—a common scenario for championship teams—the Cascades have a seemingly endless bench of players who can come on to the floor and shoulder the load without missing a step. Not to say that the Cascades are without their stars, their entire starting line could make a case for a league all-star on any night, but there is a definite team mentality that leads to selfless play. Saturday night proved to be a fine example of this teamwork with the Cascades taking the game 74-50 in an effort that made the visiting University of Alberta Pandas look like a team in disrepair. Aieisha Luyken went for 20 points, four assists, three steals and three rebounds, all while committing no turnovers. Luyken is steadily making a case to be an All-Canadian this year. The selfless fourth-year guard is quietly captaining the number one team in the country and rarely has an off night.

In a game that has been marked on many basketball fans’ calendars for some time, the University of Alberta men’s basketball team made its first visit to the Envision Athletic Centre since the well-documented leave of former UFV head coach Barnaby Craddock to the same position at U of A. From the very start it appeared as though whatever fog the UFV team had been in the previous night had cleared as the night got off to a fast-paced start. Emotion rode high on the court as every basket seemed to be the turning point in the game. UFV was without their usual height and strength inside as their star forward Kyle Grewal was sidelined recovering from what appeared to be a lower leg injury.  The absence of Grewal was noticed early and often as Alberta put the ball inside as often as UFV’s scrambling defence would allow. Despite impressive efforts from Nathan Kendall (who was moved to the centre position in Grewal’s absence) U of A was simply too long and strong to be shut down.

The turning point of the game had to be when, after a hard fought effort, Kendall finally fouled out. It was a seemingly inevitable event considering the constant waves of bigger, stronger players he was forced to guard. In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter UFV had five guards on the floor and eventually the length of University of Alberta became too much as they pulled away for a 91-81 victory.

In the loss the most notable stat of the night was from James York, who put up an impressive double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds and committing only one turnover over the course of his 37 minutes on the floor.

Next up for the men’s and women’s teams is a road trip out to the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge. The Cascades return to the Envision Athletic Centre on January 25 and 26 to play the University of Northern British Columbia in a two-game series.

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