Print Edition: September 17, 2014
As we get closer and closer to the women’s basketball team’s opening game on September 18, we start to get a clearer image of how the team will look on their opening weekend of pre-season action against the visiting University of Calgary Dinos.
The Cascades will have to rebound after losing a pair of key contributors from last year’s starting lineup, specifically Aieisha Luyken and Nicole Weirks. We can expect that Weirks’ younger sister Sarah and CIS national all-star Kayli Sartori will be looked to as the new leaders, both on and off the court.
The team will return this year with Al Tuchscherer, the longest-serving of all the Cascades’ CIS coaches with 12 years. When I asked him if his team felt any pressure due to their exceptional season the previous year, Coach Tuchscherer responded, “No, I don’t think so. It’s probably more of the other way. Last year’s squad, I think, felt a little bit of pressure, in that we have been building for a few years with a core group of girls.” He noted that this year, a few of those players have graduated. “I think there is a lot of potential, but I think there is even less pressure this year.”
The team not only lost two starters this off-season, but they also fell victim to graduation. Three key players waved farewell to the team, and Tuchscherer had a busy summer looking for new talent around the Fraser Valley.
Despite losing some of the best in the league, Tuchscherer is optimistic about his new team, especially the three-first years.
Chantal Ewert comes to the Cascades after graduating from Terry Fox Secondary this past June. The 6’2 guard and forward told the Cascades athletic department, “I am looking forward to working with the coaching staff that were a part of my development [as a Junior Cascade] at a young age, as well as reconnecting with former teammates. It is a great opportunity for me to attend school and learn and grow as a player while staying close to home.”
Jenika Bannerman comes to the Cascades from the same high school as current Cascade Kaitlyn McDonald: G.W. Graham Secondary. The 5’11” guard is also a former Junior Cascade.
Danielle Vanbergen committed to the Cascades from Mark Isfeld Secondary. The 5’7” guard will get an immediate chance to show what she can do and try to take the vacant starting point guard position.
The three girls join the Cascades program, which, despite Coach Tuchscherer’s words, will be facing pressure from the CIS women’s basketball world. It’s up to the new team to either match their bronze medal finish from last year, or take charge and trample all competition in their way to gold this year.