Kayli Sartori was a little surprised Sunday night when she was announced as a CIS tournament all-star following Windsor’s trouncing of Saint Mary’s in the national final.
It might have been because Cascades assistant coach, Sean Bosko, had warned her she was presenting the Bronze Baby trophy, because her teammates told her she was going to have to shake all the Windsor players’ hands, or because UFV’s communications staff warned her she’d be awarding Player of the Game honours.
All of this was (of course) a conspiracy of lies designed to keep Sartori from guessing the truth, that she was to be the first UFV player in program history to be named a CIS women’s basketball championship all-star. On her way to the court the third-year guard narrowly avoided being run over by Windsor fans celebrating the Lancers’ fourth straight championship, yet eventually managed to collect her much-deserved reward.
“Having Kayli win an all-star is a really positive step forward for her,” said assistant coach Anthony ‘Pops’ Luyken. “It really starts to solidify her role as the next leader on our team moving forward. We’re losing some great leadership and Kayli has to step into that role. I think for her it’s that symbolic moment that just speaks ‘Hey, you’re going to carry the torch.’”
Sartori started all three UFV games during the national championships, averaging 11 point and 6.7 rebounds per game. She caught fire during the Cascades’ bronze medal match against the Saskatchewan Huskies, scoring 13 points (shooting 2-4 from behind the arc) and grabbing 9 rebounds. Her work against both Windsor in the semi-final and Saskatchewan in the final helped spark the Cascades to greater heights and revealed the leader that Sartori is becoming on the court.
A hard player to classify, even by her own coaches, Sartori is an excellent mix of small forward and guard. She is as equally capable of taking over playmaking duties from teammate and starting point-guard Aieisha Luyken as she is posting up in the paint or driving to the rim. Her versatile play allows Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer remarkable flexibility, as Sartori herself recognizes:
“Sometimes Al’s looking for me to score, sometimes he’s looking for me to be a playmaker. It depends who we’re playing and which position I’m filling … I think that on the floor I bring a lot of versatility. If someone small is guarding me I can bring her down low, if she’s a bigger player I can pull her outside and drive past her.”
Sartori also has high praise for coach Tuchscherer, who she insists has not only made her the player she is today, but also is the reason she is actually playing CIS ball. “Al’s probably been one of my favorite coaches to play for,” she says. “I’ve been playing for him for the longest time, probably since I was 14 and just going into grade nine. I was always looking at the big picture, saying ‘I’m going to go play in the States, I’m good enough,’ but I really had difficulty with the academics. I don’t think I could have played basketball in university without him, and he’s kept me grounded and he’s really been my person to lean on … I’ve been through some hard times in the last three years and I think if it would have been any other coach, it wouldn’t be the way it is today.”
As for the award itself, Sartori is honored, but knows that bringing home the bronze medal is a team accomplishment