The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team was hoping their first trip to the Canada West Final Four would play out like the movie Hoosiers.
In the end, their weekend adventure more closely resembled Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
To say the Cascades’ journey was a disaster would be putting it mildly. In a perfect world, they would have caught their scheduled 5 p.m. flight out of Abbotsford last Thursday and landed in Saskatoon at 9:30 p.m. local time.
But mechanical difficulties with the plane delayed takeoff by three hours, which caused the team to miss a connecting flight out of Calgary. Since there were no more flights to Saskatoon that evening, the team flew to Regina and took cabs north to Saskatoon. Of course, the cab ride was delayed by nearly an hour after the airline temporarily misplaced the Cascades’ luggage.
When it was all said and done, Al Tuchscherer’s squad checked into their hotel after 4 a.m. – just hours before their scheduled shoot-around.
“It was crazy,” Tuchscherer, the Cascades’ head coach, said with a wry chuckle. “We’re passing signs for all these small towns I’ve never heard of, and I’m like, ‘Where am I?’ It was four in the morning! And we were playing the No. 1 team in the country that night.”
The travel travails further stacked the deck against the underdog Cascades, who fell 88-59 to the host Saskatchewan Huskies in Friday’s semifinal and 77-64 to the Alberta Pandas in the bronze medal game Saturday.
The UFV women are still alive in the hunt for a national championship berth, as they travel to Fredricton, NB for the CIS East Regional this weekend. They take on the Toronto Varsity Blues in the semis on Friday, with the victor moving on to face the New Brunswick-Western Ontario winner on Saturday. One team will earn a trip to nationals.
“It’s a pretty tough regional,” Tuchscherer said. “But I think we’re ready. We’re battle-tested now.
“We play the top teams in the country in our own conference night after night, so it’s not like we’ll go out there and find someone who’s significantly better than our Canada West opponents.”