The Envision Athletic Centre was the host to some hardwood madness last weekend as the Cascades Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams battled it out against two strong squads from the University of Alberta. Both ranked fourth in their separate leagues, U of A’s Golden Bears (Men) and Pandas (Women) were the favorites coming into Friday night’s games, despite being named after two of the laziest mammals in the world. A quick Google search revealed that a golden bear is so lazy that it does not actually exist, while a panda is, well, a panda.
The women played first in what
was described by one bystander as the Cascades’ “best game of the season.” Despite trailing 33-39 at half-time, UFV refused to crumple beneath the Alberta onslaught and instead turned the game into an intense defensive battle. A Cascades run at the end of the third quarter tied the game up with 12 minutes remaining, and provided the opportunity for Cascades guard Aieisha Luyken to lead her team to victory. Luyken had 13 points on the night, including two crucial lay-ups in the final minutes of the fourth. She was supported in the effort by a double-double from Sarah Wierks, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds and a smooth 14 points and four steals from Tessa Klassen. The final score found the Cascades with a 69-63 victory.
The men’s game started brilliantly, with a beautiful rendition of “O Canada” by Sasha Penner. It continued on a more ambivalent note as a competition between Zeon Gray’s neon kicks, and the yellow “bananas” of Golden Bear’s star Jordan Baker. The duel between these opposing pieces of footwear was key in a game largely dominated by the flashy play of the two point guards.
UFV roared to a commanding lead in the first quarter, despite surrendering some easy transition baskets. Sam Freeman, who dropped six threes on the night, partnered with Joel Friesen to provide some slick outside shooting that the Bears just couldn’t seem to answer. Yet by halftime, the Cascades only led by nine (35- 26), thanks to a wild, last-second coast-to-coast rush from Jordan Baker that left the five defenders on the floor looking a bit silly.
Yet the key moment in this game came not on the floor, but in the UFV dressing room; when Zeon Gray came marching back onto the wood for the third quarter his shoes were no longer neon, but instead a sleek, professional black. “We got game,” they seemed to say, “and we just got serious.” And in the third quarter the Cascades did get serious, accumulating a quick 47-27 lead, despite escalating roughness from the Golden Bears. The University of Alberta managed to make a game of it in the fourth, but that didn’t stop UFV from grabbing a decisive 80-69 final score. Freeman led the Cascades with 26 points, while Joel Friesen had 23. The Bear’s Jordan Baker accumulated an impressive 22 points and 15 rebounds in his yellow shoes, yet was (I’m sure) crushed when one spectator informed him: “You don’t deserve the ball!”
Both UFV teams faced the same opponents on Saturday night, and this time both were defeated. The women lost 52-70, while the men fell 70-84. Their records on the season stand at 8-8 and 6-10 respectively.