Cameron leads Cascades women’s hoopsters past Heat in season opener

Shayna Cameron spent the past four years dominating the PacWest conference, and she showed in her first career Canada West game that her skillset translates very well to the CIS, too.

Cameron, a shooting guard in her fifth year of eligibility who transferred to the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball program from Quest University in the off-season, excelled in the Cascades’ Canada West regular season opener on Friday.

The Chilliwack, B.C. product exploded for 27 points (11-of-22 from the field, 5-of-10 from beyond the arc) and added 11 rebounds and four assists as the Cascades beat the UBC Okanagan Heat 68-50 at the Envision Athletic Centre.

Taylor Claggett (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Kayli Sartori (14 points, four assists) also had strong outings for UFV, while Claire Elliott (11 points) and Vanessa Botteselle (10 points) both scored in double figures for UBCO.

The Cascades (1-0) and the Heat (0-1) renew hostilities on Saturday (5 p.m. at the EAC).

“Tonight was just about executing and following the game plan, and if I could score as much as I did, then that’s how we do it, I guess,” Cameron said with a smile afterward. “It’s all about sharing the ball.

“I was excited – I came out with a lot of energy, and I wanted to prove myself, that I can play in this league. A lot of people have said I’m that college kid that’s coming up, and is she really that experienced and that good? I just wanted to kind of prove that tonight, and come out with a lot of energy.”

Both teams got off to slow offensive starts on Friday, with the host Cascades leading 68-50 at the end of the first quarter.

But UFV heated up at the start of the second – they drilled five triples in a span of five minutes, including two from Cameron, to open a 32-19 lead. They took a 34-24 lead into the break.

The Cascades maintained the double-digit lead throughout the second half, despite an offensive drought in the fourth quarter where they went without a point for over five minutes. The Heat, during that stretch, trimmed the UFV lead to 58-47. But the Cascades’ Kayli Sartori helped her team regain control with a driving layup, plus the foul, and UFV cruised from there.

UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer wasn’t surprised to see Cameron break out in her Canada West regular season debut.

“She has all the skills necessary to compete at our level,” he said. “She’s worked hard to build her strength and conditioning . . . and she approaches the game as a real veteran. It doesn’t surprise me at all how she performed tonight. She’s a knockdown shooter, she’s creative off the dribble, and she’s athletic.”

The Cascades showed flashes of their offensive potential on Friday, but Tuchscherer noted they still have “a long ways to go” in their development.

“We talked after the game about taking those stretches of three or four minutes where we are playing some really nice basketball and stretching those out to five or six minutes, or into a full quarter,” he said. “If we can do that, I think we could be a pretty dangerous team. But right now, we’re at the stage where we’re still not exactly sure where everybody’s moving . . . sometimes we got a little out of sync out there, and you saw that for sure tonight.”

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