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Cascades and Spartans collide under the big top

This past Saturday, the AESC held one of the most anticipated basketball matches of the Canada West season: both the men and women of UFV took on their cross-town rivals, the Spartans of Trinity Western University (TWU)

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By Kyle Balzer (Contributor) – Email

Print Edition: February 1, 2012

For as long as the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC) has been in existence, it has played host to many major pop culture events. It is the home arena for your Abbotsford Heat; it has hosted concerts for big-name musical acts such as Maroon 5, ZZ Top, and KISS; and it’ll soon be the one of the stops for Cirque du Soleil’s new acrobatic show called “KA.” But this past Saturday, the AESC held one of the most anticipated basketball matches of the Canada West season. Both the men and women of UFV took on their cross-town rivals, the Spartans of Trinity Western University (TWU).

The women were the first ones to taste the thrill of playing in a bigger arena and the Cascades got off to a terrific start. Veteran star Tessa Klassen took charge by displaying great offensive play along with Samantha Kurath, who executed great plays from inside the key. The Cascades had an 11-point lead, but TWU quickly came back in the second quarter by scoring a couple of three-pointers and showing tough defence from their inside players. By halftime the score was 35-33 in favour of UFV.  As the third quarter began, both teams went back and forth in taking over the lead. Kayli Sartori and Sarah Wierks played excellent defence combining for a total of 14 defensive rebounds and guard Aieisha Luyken was dominant on the offence making her, along with Kayli Sartori, one of the top scorers with 11 points. Despite getting to within five of the lead, the ladies weren’t able to keep up with the Spartans in the fourth quarter and lost the match by a score of 71-59.  Although it was a tough loss for the women, they still had the better field-goal percentage (39 per cent) and the better free-throw percentage (69 per cent).

Afterwards, it was the men’s turn to play in the slightly-larger-than-normal gym and like the women, they got off to an amazing start. Guard Sam Freeman rallied the defensive end by contributing three defensive rebounds and the team’s free-throw percentage was nearly perfect at 90 per cent thanks to four different players. By halftime, the score was 34-23. 2011 Canada West Second team All-Star Joel Friesen was magnificent in the second half. He was perfect in free throws, he had eight defensive rebounds, and two key steals that gave the Cascades the energy to pull away. He was also the top scorer with 24 points. Veteran Kyle Grewal was also a huge contributor finishing the game at 64 per cent from field-goal range. Even though the Spartans got to within nine points, the Cascades were able to seal the deal with a win by a score of 88-72.

Coach Barnaby Craddock was pleased with his team’s level of focus and tempo on the defensive side. “We’ve got more than 100 points in four of our last six games and that’s because we were able to maintain that level of focus and that’s the level of focus that was shown tonight,” said Craddock. Also, even though it was a different venue, it didn’t affect their mentality. “We knew that coming in it’d be a harder venue for our shooters, compared to a local university gym, but it was a great time and a good experience for the players and hopefully in the future we’ll be able to pack this place.”

So all in all, having a regular season game in the AESC for the first time was a huge success. Both teams lived up to the challenge and in this reporter’s opinion, it has the potential of becoming an annual event. You can continue to see the Cascades in action this Friday and Saturday as they take on the UBC Thunderbirds right here at home.

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