UFV Cascades (12-8, 2nd in Explorer Division, No. 5 seed in Canada West) vs. Manitoba Bisons (15-5, 3rd in Pioneer Division, No. 4 seed in Canada West)
Canada West men’s basketball quarter-final best-of-three playoff series
Game schedule (all times Central): Thursday 7 p.m., Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 3 p.m. (if necessary), Investors Group Athletic Centre
Webcast (pay-per-view): ufv.canadawest.tv
The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team heads to Winnipeg this weekend in search of the program’s fifth consecutive Canada West Final Four berth.
The Cascades take on the Manitoba Bisons in a best-of-three conference quarter-final playoff series, tipping off Thursday at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.
Both teams are coming off first-round byes, and UFV head coach Adam Friesen said the two-week break from game action after the grind of the regular season has allowed his squad to enter the playoffs rested and healthy.
“It takes strong leadership, good chemistry and mental toughness to have success on the road in the playoffs,” Friesen noted. “The challenge is that you’re having to face a good team, because they’ve earned home court.”
Indeed, the Bisons present a stiff test for the Cascades. They’re coming into the playoffs on a roll, having won their last seven regular-season games, and they currently hold the No. 9 spot in the CIS national rankings.
AJ Basi leads a deep Bisons squad – the fourth-year guard rang up a team-high 17.9 points per game, good for eighth in Canada West. Basi’s specialty is the deep ball – his 59 made three-pointers were second-most in the conference, trailing only UFV’s Vijay Dhillon (61), and he hit 37.1 per cent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Justus Alleyn (15.6 points per game), Keith Omoerah (13.2) and Ilarion Bonhomme (10.3) also average double-digit points for Manitoba, and forwards Wyatt Anders and Omoerah each posted 9.8 rebounds per game to rank third and fourth in Canada West in that department.
“They’re well-rounded,” Friesen noted. “Their bigs are a physical presence down low, and their guards are versatile and can shoot from deep.
“They’re challenging, and we’ve got to do our best to figure it out. Controlling the pace of the game will be important.”
The Cascades are led by fifth-year senior guard Kevon Parchment, who put together a sparkling all-around campaign. The Scarborough, Ont. product poured in a team-leading 17.5 points per game, good for 10th in Canada West, and also ranked among the conference leaders in assists (5.2 apg, second), rebounds (9.1 rpg, sixth), blocks (1.2 bpg, 10th) and steals (1.6 spg, 17th).
Parchment is flanked in the UFV backcourt by veteran sharpshooters Dhillon (15.6 points per game) and Manny Dulay (12.0 ppg). Both fourth-year players shot better than 40 per cent from beyond the arc.
Nate Brown posted 11.3 points per game for the Cascades, while fellow post players Navjot Bains and Matt Cooley did strong work on the boards this season, averaging 7.2 and 6.0 rebounds per game, respectively.
The Explorer and Pioneer divisions don’t have any schedule crossover during the regular season, but the Cascades and Bisons did meet in the preseason. UFV prevailed 72-67 on Oct. 24 at the Lea Marc Printing Tournament, hosted by the University of Winnipeg. The Cascades built a 24-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, and fended off a second-half push from the Bisons behind 19 points from Dhillon.
Points per game: UFV 74.5 (9th in Canada West), Manitoba 82.6 (4th in Canada West)
Opponents’ points per game: UFV 73.2 (5th), Manitoba 76.7 (10th)
Field goal percentage: UFV 43.8 (6th), Manitoba 43.9 (5th)
Opponents’ field goal percentage: UFV 40.6 (5th), Manitoba 41.2 (6th)
Three-point shooting percentage: UFV 36.1 (4th), Manitoba 32.8 (11th)
Rebounds per game: UFV 39.5 (T6th), Manitoba 43.3 (3rd)
Rebounding margin: UFV +0.8 (9th), Manitoba +2.4 (5th)
Turnovers per game: UFV 14.0 (3rd), Manitoba 14.3 (5th)