UFV’s Amanda Thompson has continued the trend of great talents from W.J. Mouat playing for the Cascades women’s basketball team. Thompson and the Cascades open the playoffs against Victoria on Friday. (UFV Athletics photo)

Mouat grads fuelling Cascades playoff push

Long connection between two schools has led to success for UFV women’s basketball program

Combining equal parts yellow and blue makes green, but in the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades women’s basketball team’s particular shade of green there has always been a significant amount of W. J. Mouat Hawks red.

For the past 20 years-plus, the two programs have been linked, with the Abbotsford high school providing a pipeline of talent to the university.

The late-’90s and early-2000s saw Mouat alumni Krista Harris, Erin Lee, Lesley Sharp, Leanne Kiley and Annie Krygsveld make the jump to UFV.

That trend continued with a big push of talent earlier this decade, including Kayli Sartori, Katie Brink, Jaslyen Singh, Sam Kurath and Kathleen Robertson. That era led to the most successful run in school history for both schools, as the Hawks won a senior girls 3A title in 2011, and that group of talent helped the Cascades qualify for the CIS Final 8 for the first time ever in 2013. The following year saw the Cascades women win Canada West silver and earn the program’s first-ever national medal.

The Mouat-UFV connection continues today, with a trio of Hawks playing significant roles on the Cascades team this season.

Amanda Thompson, Victoria Jacobse and Madeline Beerwald have all been starters for the majority of the season and helped push the Cascades to a playoff spot in the second half of the season after a slow start.

Thompson, one of the best three-point shooters in Canada West, is second on the team in scoring with 10.6 points per game and continues to be an excellent defender. She has battled through three knee surgeries in four years, and fought through both ankle and hand issues this season, but has been one of the Cascades best.

“She’s a unique athlete and has gone through a tremendous amount of adversity,” said Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer. “But she’s playing the best basketball of her career right now for us. She’s consistent and we can always put her on the other team’s best player. She’s so effective defensively and has been a force for us offensively this season.”

Thompson’s Mouat-UFV connection goes even deeper, as her mother Paula was the coach of that 2011 provincial-title-winning Hawks team, but Thompson joked it wasn’t always easy to have her mother as coach.

“When I first started, there were a lot of tears and struggles,” she said. “And I think I made my team run a lot early on, but by the end it was really good. It was a similar mentality to Al’s practices and the style of play was like UFV – very physical and tough.”

Jacobse has also been a nice fit for the Cascades, as she has started all 20 games this season and continues to improve.

“Every year she gets better and she stepped into a starting role for us this year,” Tuchscherer said of the third-year guard. “She’s very solid defensively and is such a selfless player out there.”

One of the bigger surprises for the women’s team this season has been the emergence of Beerwald, who has made an impact in her first year at the university level. The unheralded Beerwald has earned a starting role on the team, and has impressed her head coach.

“She had a breakthrough weekend for us against UNBC (Nov 23/24) and ever since then she’s been a key part of the rotation,” he said, noting she made the team as walk-on. “It was a bit unexpected but she has carved out a nice place for us as an undersized post player. She’s really figuring it out, and it’s nice to see.”

Thompson, the veteran of the current crop of Hawks talent, said Jacobse and Beerwald have really emerged this season.

“They’re both fitting in well,” she said. “Mouat practices are hard, so us transitioning to Al’s practices – I feel like we’re already prepared. I know Madeline wasn’t expected to get a lot of minutes but now she’s starting and working her butt off.”

Tuchscherer said the Mouat connection has been a big factor in the program’s success.

“I can’t understate the number of quality kids we’ve had from there,” he said. “They really jumped on board with us for our junior club program, and a lot of those kids wanted to continue and be a Cascade. Things really took off when Paula got into the mix – she did a great job – but Mouat itself has some good feeder schools like C.G. Howe and Chief Dan George. The coaches down there are also doing some good work.”

The women’s team opens the Canada West playoffs on Friday when they travel to Victoria to take on the Vikes. That game tips off at 7 p.m.

For more on the team, visit gocascades.ca.

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