Golden Bears edge Cascades in thrilling Canada West final

The University of the Fraser Valley men's basketball team came up one point shy of a Canada West title on Saturday evening.

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team came up one point shy of a Canada West title on Saturday evening.

The Alberta Golden Bears edged the Cascades 72-71 in a thrilling conference final, played at the University of Saskatchewan.

In a see-saw battle, UFV had a rare six-point possession to open up a lead late in the fourth quarter. With the score tied 61-61 with just over three minutes remaining, Cascades centre Mike James was fouled while hitting a layup. He made the free throw, but in the aftermath, Alberta’s Todd Bergen-Henengouwen was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul for mixing it up with UFV’s Kyle Grewal.

Sheldon Bjorgaard made one of two free throws, plus the Cascades got the ball back, and James made another layup to give his team a 67-61 advantage.

But the Golden Bears came roaring back to knot the score 69-69. With under a minute remaining, Cascades guard Joel Friesen was fouled going to the basket and hit both free throws. But Alberta’s Daniel Ferguson responded with a three-pointer, giving the Bears a 72-71 lead.

Both teams came up empty on their next offensive possessions, and the Cascades got the ball back with 9.2 seconds left. After a timeout, Friesen started towards the hoop, but elected to flip the ball out to Jordan Blackman on the right wing. The freshman had a great look at a three-pointer, but his shot was long. Grewal tipped the rebound in, but the buzzer had already sounded.

Both the Cascades and the Golden Bears are headed to the CIS national championships, which run March 9-11 in Halifax. The UFV squad had locked up their berth by virtue of their 63-62 semifinal win over UVic on Friday.

CASCADES WOMEN FALL IN BRONZE MEDAL GAME

In Regina, the UFV women’s hoopsters dropped a hard-fought 71-65 decision to the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Canada West bronze medal game on Saturday.

The Cascades drew to within three points (66-63) on a pair of Kayli Sartori foul shots with 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. But that was as close as they would get, as Saskatchewan drew fouls on their final offensive possessions and knocked down the free throws.

Point guard Aieisha Luyken, who had been held scoreless in Friday’s semifinal loss to the Regina Cougars, found her range against the Huskies, scoring a team-high 17 points. Sarah Wierks (14 points, nine rebounds) and Sartori (12 points) also scored in double figures, while the Huskies were led by Katie Miyazaki’s 17 points and 10 boards.

The Cascades and Huskies will need to win their respective regional tournaments next weekend to earn a berth to the CIS nationals in Calgary. The seedings for the two regionals will be announced Sunday.