With their backs against the wall heading into the final two games of the regular season, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team responded in impressive fashion.
The Cascades, outside the Canada West playoff picture when the weekend began, rallied to clinch a berth by sweeping the Brandon Bobcats at the Envision Athletic Centre.
UFV’s post-season bid was assisted by the Regina Cougars and Saskatchewan Huskies, who swept the Manitoba Bisons and Calgary Dinos, respectively. The Cascades had trailed Manitoba and Calgary heading into the weekend, but ended up hurdling both teams to claim the No. 7 seed.
“The second half of the season, we’ve been doing math equations the whole time, trying to figure out where we’d place,” Cascades guard Sam Freeman said. “Now that we know we’re finally in the playoffs, it’s exciting. It’s a new season.”
The Bobcats (4-20) gave the Cascades (10-14) a scare in Friday’s opener. UFV led by 19 points early in the third quarter, but Brandon battled back to trim to deficit to three on the strength of an effective full-court press. But the Cascades calmed down, and pulled away for a 75-68 win.
Saturday’s rematch was more like a mismatch. UFV opened a 25-point lead at halftime and stepped on the gas from there, winning 102-67. Ryan Fahandeg (20 points) and Nathan Kendall (17) had big games off the bench, and the Cascades shot a scorching 16-for-32 from three-point range as a team.
UFV moves on to face the No. 2-seeded Trinity Western Spartans (21-3) in the first round of the playoffs. The best-of-three series runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday (if necessary) at the Langley Events Centre, with tip-off at 7 p.m. each night.
“There’s nothing wrong with being the underdogs once in a while,” Cascades coach Barnaby Craddock said, alluding to his team’s two lopsided losses (92-73 and 114-89) at Trinity in December. “We struggled with them earlier this year, so we’ll have to play better as a unit and put our best performance out there.”
CASCADES WOMEN TO FACE WINNIPEG
The UFV women’s hoopsters, who had locked up a playoff berth the previous week, improved to the No. 7 seed with a pair of blowout victories over winless Brandon.
The Cascades (12-12) set a school record for margin of victory in a 93-41 rout on Friday, and completed the sweep of the Bobcats (0-24) with an 87-49 win on Saturday.
UFV moves on to face the Winnipeg Wesmen in a best-of-three series in the Manitoba capital, beginning on Friday. The Wesmen are ranked No. 9 in Canada, but the Cascades took them to overtime on Feb. 4.