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UFV women’s basketball shows promise in back-and-forth season

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When it came to the Cascades women’s basketball team this past season, they weren’t solely beloved for their play on the court. A team full of characters, the Cascades’ defining characteristic — other than tenacious playing — was the fun-filled attitude they displayed at nearly every home game of the season. Sure, they didn’t get as far in the playoffs as they would have liked to, but the Cascades showed through their play and their younger players that this team is poised to make a massive splash next season.

The Cascades started their season with a big high, sweeping the TRU Wolfpack at home to open their 2018-19 run. The team showed, most of all, a commitment to defence and the ability to get to the line if a clear shot was not available. Fourth-year forward Taylor Claggett set the tone, displaying excellent post-play as well as a special ability to knock down free throws. In this respect, the Cascades had already found what would be a fairly effective game plan only two games into the season. The thing about basketball though is no matter what works against one team, it’s always about the next matchup.

The Cascades were put through the ringer after their early success, winning just one of their next six contests. Sitting at a 3-5 record, some changes needed to be made. Indeed they were, and just like the men’s squad, the women’s team rattled off wins en route to a six-game winning streak right in the middle of their Canada West campaign. Things were coming together for the squad until they ran into the Victoria Vikes, who on Jan. 11, 2019 brought down the streaking UFV visitors. From here they would win just one of their next five games.

Though they closed out the season on a losing streak, this was not indicative of the team’s potential. They showed moments of incredible play and skill, leading many to believe that they certainly had a shot at the post-season, regardless of their recent struggles. The only issue was that their playoff debut would have to come against Victoria, a team that UFV drew with over the course of two games.

Though they had found success in their second regular season encounter with the Vikes, the Cascades could not pull off the win, ending their season with a 61-80 loss to the home team. The loss certainly wasn’t what the Cascades wanted, but it came at a time where for many young players, it can now serve as motivation. UFV deployed multiple first- and second-year players who wound up finding legitimate playing time, signalling that a new era is on the horizon for the program.

Wrapping up this year’s season, it would be ridiculous to not mention the important contributions brought to the team by some of its newest players. Abby Zawada, a first-year player out of Richmond, B.C. did more than just add to the team. Her jump shot and hustle in transition translated to multiple impressive statistical performances, and landed her a spot on the Canada West all-rookie team, making her just the third Cascade ever to accomplish the feat. First-year forwards Natalie Rathler and Madison Draayers also saw minutes in the Cascades 2018-19 season, contributing offensively and defensively.

Madeline Beerwald had quite the rookie campaign herself, becoming known for some of her late-game clutch shots. On more than one occasion, Beerwald secured late-game scores that aided the Cascades in their efforts to win close games — a remarkable trait for a player only in their first year. Fourth-year Taylor Claggett also impressed, making the Canada West third team all-star squad. She also had big moments during the regular season, setting the Canada West records for free throws made and free throws attempted (20-24) in a matchup with Alberta on Nov. 9, 2018.

The Cascades now look to the offseason for some practice and rest, as a number of new recruits finish out their high school careers before joining UFV.  

Image: Katelyn Mallette. November 2018 (UFV Flickr)

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