UFV Sports Saturday

Prince George/Abbotsford -Men’s Baseketball: Burke’s buzzer-beater boosts Cascades past Mountaineers in preseason opener

Brandon Burke won’t soon forget his first game in a UFV Cascades jersey.

Burke supplied the late-game heroics as the Cascades men’s basketball team won their preseason opener 92-90 over the Seattle Mountaineers on Saturday evening at the Envision Athletic Centre.

With 1.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the two teams deadlocked at 90-90, Marcus Morgan inbounded the ball from the left baseline to Burke, who turned and pump-faked with a Seattle defender blanketing him. The defender didn’t bite, so Burke hoisted a tough left-handed leaner from just inside the three-point arc.

The ball splashed through as the buzzer sounded, and Burke’s new teammates rushed onto the court to mob him.

“Honestly, it was gratifying,” said Burke, a Toronto product who transferred to UFV from Ottawa’s Algonquin College. “The coaching staff and all my teammates made me feel very welcome. They gave me the ball because they trust me, and I just had to produce. Make or miss, they still would have been behind me, so that’s the good thing about it.”

The Cascades got out to a solid start on Saturday, building a 25-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the Mountaineers, a men’s club team from Seattle, rallied in the second quarter to take a 42-41 advantage into the break.

The visitors nursed a modest lead for much of the second half, and were up 88-82 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. But the Cascades responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a tough jump shot in the lane – plus the foul – by Antonio Jhuty. He hit the ensuing free throw to put UFV ahead 90-88.

A Jason Waltman layup tied it up, setting the stage for Burke in the dying seconds.

“The play was designed for Nate Brown, our big man, and he had a terrific game,” Burke related. “All the attention was focused on him, so I just got a screen and went towards the ball. I didn’t have time to put it on the floor, and I tried to get him in the air and get a foul, but he didn’t jump. I went back up and shot it, and luckily it went in. It’s a good feeling, even though it’s exhibition.”

Cascades head coach Adam Friesen lauded Burke’s clutch shot, and said the game represented a solid start for his squad.

“It’s probably the best-case scenario,” he said. “We got a game in, a lot of guys got to play, and it can’t hurt team camaraderie when you have a game like that.

“We’ve got to work on everything. But I like the fact that we’re coming together as a team. It’s a good first step. Going into next weekend, hopefully we can just keep building and growing and coming together.”

Friesen elected to rest backcourt stars Kevon Parchment and Manny Dulay for the entire second half in favour of giving others a chance to see what they could do. Burke (12 points on 5-for-8 shooting from the field) and Jhuty (12 points, 5-for-6), among others, took advantage of the extended audition.

Fourth-year power forward Brown led the way for the Cascades, racking up 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Veteran guard Vijay Dhillon and centre Matt Cooley, a transfer from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, also scored in double figures with 11 points each.

Rashaad Powell (24 points, eight rebounds) and Marcus Goode (22 points, four blocks) set the pace for the Mountaineers.

The UFV men’s hoopsters begin their exhibition schedule in earnest next weekend at the Guy Vetrie Memorial Tournament at the University of Victoria, where they’ll face the Saskatchewan Huskies (Friday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m.), the Carleton Ravens (Saturday, Oct. 3, 3 p.m.) and the host Victoria Vikes (Sunday, Oct. 4, 2 p.m.).

UVic and Saskatchewan finished first and second, respectively, in Canada West last season, while the Ravens are Canada’s reigning university basketball dynasty. The Ottawa program has won the CIS national championship 11 of the past 13 years.

The Cascades went 17-3 in conference play during the 2014-15 season, and earned the Canada West bronze medal.

Men’s Soccer  – Sampson’s second-half strike sends Cascades past T-Wolves

Sophomore striker Elijah Sampson’s first goal of the season lifted the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over the UNBC Timberwolves on Saturday afternoon in Prince George.

In the 60th minute, Cascades captain Colton O’Neill sent a corner kick into the box where it bounced around and landed at the feet of Connor O’Neill (Colton’s twin brother), who banged a shot off the post. Sampson, a second-year Cascade from Abbotsford, was there to bury the rebound.

That stood up as the game-winner, and Cascades keeper Alex Skrzeta made three saves in his second shutout of the campaign. That’s tied for the most in Canada West with UVic’s Noah Pawlowski and Mount Royal’s Kamil Zielinski.

UFV improved to 3-2-0 on the season, good for third in the Pacific Division, while UNBC fell to 1-4-0. The two teams clash again on Sunday in Prince George. Kickoff is at 2:15 p.m., following a game between the Cascades and T-Wolves women’s soccer squads at noon. Both matches will be webcast at canadawest.tv.

“We started slow – the first 15 mintues we were second-best,” UFV head coach Tom Lowndes analyzed. “We took a bit of time to get into the game . . . but we got a foothold going into halftime, and we came out in the second half with a lot more intensity and desire. You could tell right from the kick-off.

“There wasn’t too many clear-cut chances, but you only need one. When we got our chance, we took it. We were strong towards the end of the game.”

While the Cascades registered just one shot in the first half, the Timberwolves had the better of the play in the opening minutes, highlighted by a shot from Chilliwack product Conrad Rowlands that just missed the target.

But Lowndes’s charges started to gain traction in the latter stages of the half, and they came alive after the break, out-shooting the hosts 9-1 the rest of the way.

After Sampson’s ice-breaking goal, UNBC’s best chance at an equalizer came in the 86th minute, when they had a set piece opportunity from 30 yards out. But Francesco Bartolillo’s attempt sailed high over the net, and the T-Wolves would get no closer.

Lowndes credited a trio of players who came off the bench – Sampson and midfielders Kree Byrne and Dylan McCrindle – with shifting the momentum in UFV’s favour.

“Those three really changed the game for us and got us going in the second half,” he said. “They were the catalyst for the good things that happened.”

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