The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team clinched a playoff berth in memorable fashion, defeating the CIS No. 9-ranked Thompson Rivers Wolfpack 82-79 on Friday evening at the Envision Athletic Centre.
Kevon Parchment had a monster outing for the Cascades, pouring in a season-high 33 points, while Vijay Dhillon added 17 and Nate Brown scored 13 for the hosts.
Reese Pribilsky paced the WolfPack with 21 points, with Luke Morris (18 points) and Volodymyr Iegorov (17) also chipping in offensively for the visitors.
The Cascades (11-6) knew going into Friday’s action that they could secure a playoff spot with a victory, and combined with the MacEwan Griffins’ 66-59 win over the UBC Okanagan Heat, they also locked up second place in the Explorer Division and a first-round playoff bye. The WolfPack (14-3) still hold a comfortable lead in the Explorer Division.
UFV and TRU renew hostilities on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Envision Athletic Centre.
“We did it with some grit,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said afterward. “It wasn’t the most well-played game in the world, but we competed hard. We held our own on the rebounds, and we gave ourselves a shot at the end. We almost gave it away, but we held on, and we’ll take it.”
UFV led 29-26 at the end of a defensive-minded first half, but things opened up considerably after the break.
The WolfPack stitched together a quick 6-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to go ahead 69-66, but the Cascades responded with an 11-0 spurt of their own, capped by a Parchment layup, to seize a 77-69 advantage with 1:25 left in regulation. They pushed the advantage to 80-71 after a pair of Dhillon free throws with 26 seconds left to seemingly seal the victory, but the WolfPack mounted a frantic comeback.
A couple of Cascades turnovers and some hot shooting from Pribilsky helped TRU cut the deficit to 82-79, with the WolfPack’s Josh Wolfram at the foul line with seven seconds left. Wolfram missed the first free throw and missed the second intentionally, and the WolfPack recovered the offensive rebound. Albert Medrano launched a shot from beyond the arc that could have sent the game to OT, but it clanged off the rim.
“We’ve got to execute down the stretch better – that made life interesting,” Friesen said with a wry chuckle. “But we’ll get better at that, and we’ll figure it out. It’s tough to get worse, so that’s the one positive.”
The Cascades shot a scorching 58.6 per cent from the field in the second half, and won the battle of the boards 36-32. Parchment shot the lights out, going 11-of-16 from the field and 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and added 14 rebounds and four assists.
“He’s just phenomenal,” Friesen said “Another day, and another box score that looks like it doesn’t belong. You know on a big weekend like Senior Weekend, Kevon’s going to bring his A game and do whatever he can to take care of business, and he did that.”
Saturday is Senior Night for the Cascades basketball programs. Fifth-year players Parchment and Shayna Cameron of the UFV women’s team will be honoured in a ceremony between the women’s game (5 p.m. start) and the men’s game (7 p.m. start).