UFV rookies Deanna Tuchscherer (top) and Maddy Gobeil are helping pace the Cascades women’s basketball team to a strong start.

UFV rookies Deanna Tuchscherer (top) and Maddy Gobeil are helping pace the Cascades women’s basketball team to a strong start.

UFV rookies setting the pace

Bumper crop of first-year players leading Cascades charge

For the past two years in the 2A B.C. senior girls provincial finals, two players have set the tone – Maddy Gobeil and Deanna Tuchscherer.

Gobeil’s South Kamloops Titans and Tuchscherer’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies squared off for the crown in both 2018 and 2019, and, while the Titans won back-to-back, both players left a mark on the basketball world.

Gobeil was named the tournament’s most valuable player both years, and Tuchscherer was an all-star both years and most outstanding defensive player in 2019.

In most cases, battling for a provincial title in back-to-back years would create animosity, conflict or resentment between the top players, but for Gobeil and Tuchscherer it has been the complete opposite.

The pair are best friends, now play together on the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades women’s basketball team and currently are roommates at the school.

“Deanna is definitely the messy one,” Gobeil joked, following the team’s final practice of 2019. “But she’s got a lot better from when I first knew her. I think by the fifth year she will be clean.”

The friendship didn’t just blossom out of the blue, though; the pair played together on the U15 B.C. provincial team in 2016, with B.C. United Basketball in 2017 and on the U17 provincial team in 2018. Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer, Deanna’s father, also coached the pair on two of those teams. Gobeil actually lived with the Tuchscherers during the past few summers.

RELATED: Chilliwack’s Tuchscherer helps Canada to one-sided win

While Tuchscherer’s home life may need some tidying up, her play on the court in Canada West action has been very clean.

She leads all CW rookies in points per game, averaging 12.6, and she’s also averaging six rebounds a game. She has already put up two double-doubles in her young career, including a 21-point and 10-rebound showing against Lethbridge on Nov. 22.

The Cascades, as a team, sit at a solid 5-3, good for seventh in the conference. Tuchscherer said it has been a good start for herself and the team as a whole.

“We’ve been given a good opportunity to show what we can do and just learn some things, and so far it’s been pretty good,” she said.

Gobeil has also been off to a solid start, averaging 9.1 points and five rebounds. She collected a high of 19 points against Winnipeg on Nov. 2.

But it’s not just Tuchscherer and Gobeil who have been new contributors for the Cascades this season. Five of the team’s top-seven scorers so far this season are rookies. Jessica Parker (7.6 ppg), Nikki Cabuco (4.9 ppg) and Lauryn Walker (2.8 ppg) have all been key contributors.

RELATED: UFV Cascades sign Australian basketball talent

“I think all of us have the same goals and mentality when it comes to basketball,” Gobeil said of the stellar rookie class. “Whether it’s pushing each other in practice or whatever, we just want to make a big impact and make the seniors’ final year all worth it.”

And the senior players have been there both on the scoresheet and by allowing the rookies to shine. Perennial star Taylor Claggett is once again putting up big numbers (19.9 ppg and 10 rpg) and sharpshooter Amanda Thompson is also averaging nearly seven points a game.

Coach Tuchscherer said the veterans on his team are a big part in the rookies having the opportunity to shine.

“I don’t think the young kids can have the success they have without the vets enabling that,” he said. “If they don’t bring them into the fold and embrace them. none of this happens. The senior kids have been instrumental in pulling this team together and making sure it works. It’s been a fun group to coach.”

Deanna agreed, saying the experienced players on the team have made the transition to the next level much easier.

“We have a pretty unique team with an older group and a younger group and we’ve been trying to figure out how to put all that together,” she said. “It’s been a learning process for the younger girls and we’ve learned a lot from the older group.”

Both Tuchscherer and Gobeil said the goal for the season is to have a deep playoff run. Both players are on pace to earn Canada West all-rookie team nods, but the team success is the main aim for the duo.

“We want to make nationals,” Gobeil said. “We set that team goal back in the summer and that’s what we’ve all been working towards. We’re more focused on what the team does rather than individually – that’s more important.”

The team is on holiday break for the remainder of 2019, and return to action on Jan. 3 and 4, when the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds come to Abbotsford. The T-birds sit in fourth place in the CW with a 7-3 record. This trip marks the first time the UBC basketball program has played in Abbotsford since 2013.

Games tip off at 6 p.m. on Jan. 3 and 5 p.m. on Jan. 4. The men also host UBC on those days, with games opening at 8 p.m. on Jan. 3 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 4. Visit gocascades.ca for more.

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