University of the Fraser Valley

UFV set to host 2024 Canada West Women’s Basketball Championship

UFV set to host 2024 Canada West Women’s Basketball Championship

Natalie Rathler and her UFV Cascades pursue a Canada West women’s basketball title on home court when they host the Canada West Women’s Basketball Championship Feb 21-25 at the UFV Athletic Centre.

Twelve elite basketball teams hit the court at the UFV Athletic Centre Feb 21-25 for the Canada West Women’s Basketball Championship. It’s the biggest sporting event the university has ever held, and UFV Athletic Director Steve Tuckwood says it’s a great opportunity to show off the Fraser Valley basketball community.

“We know the history of great teams and players at the high school level,” he says. “Now we get to showcase the university level. You will not see better university basketball in Canada than what will be in our gym come Wednesday.”

The UFV Cascades are the No. 3 seed entering the tournament, after finishing the Canada West regular season schedule with a 17-3 record. They tied the UBC Thunderbirds for the second-best record behind the Saskatchewan Huskies (19-1), but UBC got the second seed due to RPI, a rating based on a team’s wins and losses and its strength of schedule.

UFV’s record is the best for the program since moving up to the top level of university competition, USPORTS, in 2006, and Cascades bench boss Al Tuchscherer feels his team matches up well with any opponent.

“We are an experienced team that has been in a lot of battles over the years,” the coach says. “We can play from inside with our post play or outside with our guard play.  I really like our team and where we are right now. Canada West is really tough with probably 7-8 teams having a legitimate shot of moving onto the national tournament. I believe we are firmly in that mix.”

The 2023-24 Cascades are a deep and talented team led by top scorer Maddy Gobeil. The dynamic guard from South Kamloops High finished second in the entire Canada West conference, averaging 17.7 points per game. When she wasn’t shooting the lights out, she was setting up teammates for buckets, finishing 11th in the conference with 3.3 assists per game.

The Tuchscherer sisters, Deanna and Julia, give UFV a three-headed monster. Deanna was 21st in Canada West scoring with 11.1 points per game. Julia was 29th with 10.8 points per game. The 19-year-old graduate of Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Secondary was also a rebounding monster, pulling down 130 in 19 games to lead UFV.

Maddy Gobeil, star guard for the UFV Cascades women’s basketball team.

Nikki Cabuco (Port Moody) and Bernie Leda (Vancouver) provided big moments as starters, with rising stars like Google Sidhu, Fania Taylor, Natalie Rathler, Marijke Duralia, and Esther Allison coming off the bench.

“Our depth has really paid dividends for us this year,” Tuchscherer says. “We’ve been able to cut back on our starters’ minutes and I feel like they are fresh going into the tournament. Also, we’ve been able to get contributions from different people almost every game this year as opposed to relying on just Maddy to score for us.”

If the goal is to be on a roll heading into the playoffs, UFV won seven straight games to end the regular season. Last year they needed to beat the University of Northern BC in a play-in game to make the Canada West tournament, where they were eliminated by the University of Alberta. This year’s edition is peaking at the right time, which has Gobeil feeling confident.

“Throughout the season, we encountered obstacles that challenged us to embrace the journey, trust the process, and evolve,” she says. “We look forward to seizing the opportunity next week and competing for the championship, fully prepared to showcase our growth and resilience.”

The rest of the tournament field includes the Calgary Dinos (16-4), Regina Cougars (15-5), Alberta Pandas (14-6), Lethbridge Pronghorns (12-8), Trinity Western Spartans (12-8), UBC-Okanagan Heat (11-9), Victoria Vikes (8-10), Mount Royal Cougars (8-12), and Manitoba Bisons (6-14).

The tournament starts with play-in games Monday, with UFV getting a bye to the quarter-final round on Feb 22. Semi-finals are Feb 24 and the bronze and gold medal matches are Feb 25. Visit for more info.

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