With some big challenges looming in the second half of the Canada West season, the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades will be leaning heavily on superstar point guard Maddy Gobeil.
The Kamloops product is in the midst of another excellent season as a leader on and off the court for the Cascades, who entered the holiday break tied for second in the CW at 8-2.
Gobeil leads the Cascades in scoring (17 points per game) and steals (2.8), sits third in assists and fourth in rebounds. She’s in the CW top-10 in scoring and steals and ranks in the top-20 for assists.
She brings a championship pedigree to the Cascades, as her South Kamloops Titans won the 2A B.C. senior girls provincial title in 2018 and 2019 – Gobeil was the tournament’s most valuable player both years. Since joining UFV for the 2019-20 season, Gobeil has continued to develop and improve.
She said her understanding of the game has evolved at the college level.
“I feel like the mental side of the game has taken some big strides,” she said. “Even in high school you don’t really scout teams or watch a ton of film. Just my ability to read the game and understand it at a deeper level has developed a lot.”
Much of that development has been under the watchful eye of longtime Cascades women’s basketball head coach Al Tuchscherer. He saw Gobeil and the Titans defeat his daughter Deanna Tuchscherer’s G.W. Graham Grizzlies in those aforementioned provincial finals. He also went on to coach her as a youth player on provincial teams.
Deanna and Gobeil are now close friends and Al said it’s been a joy to see the pair grow together on and off the court. He said Gobeil is such an important part of this year’s Cascades team.
“Maddy is our team’s engine,” he said. “She is a fierce competitor that demands so much from herself and she just infects our team with the determination she brings to the court. She’s had a great season for, really embracing her role as a on-court leader. She scores, defends, rebounds, facilitates a lot of our offence. Just a gamer.”
He said her work ethic over the years and mental strength have made her an excellent player with the Cascades.
“She’s a student of the game so I think her understanding of the game has grown significantly,” he said. “She could beat you with power, skill, and determination when she got here but I think she can beat you with her mind now as much as anything.”
Gobeil said the Tuchscherer’s were part of her decision to join the Cascades, but she also said she respected the tradition and great names involved historically in the UFV women’s basketball program. She noted names like Kayli Sartori, and when she arrived, Taylor Claggett as talents she looked up to.
“It was kind of exciting to be part of a group that was going to be able to come back out and build the program back up again,” she said.
She noted that the mentorship Claggett provided in her rookie season made a big difference in her growth.
When the pandemic shut CW basketball down Gobeil did not rest on her laurels. She signed with US Poinçonnet Basket, a club in France’s Nationale Féminine 1 (NF1) league. She did spend some time and practice there, but COVID-19 caused even more headaches and she had to return home before suiting up professionally. Competing at that level in the future is still a goal for Gobeil.
UFV is coming off a 15-3 regular season that was unusual due to the pandemic. Teams stayed in their own province for the regular season and UFV suffered an early exit from the playoffs. She and Tuchscherer both believe it will be a different story this year, but the hard work comes in the next few weeks.
The Cascades take on contending teams such as Calgary, Winnipeg, UBC and Saskatchewan and their championship mettle will be tested.
“It’s a more challenging lineup of teams,” Gobeil said. “It’s important that we focus on each team and prepare for them with a high level of purpose.”
Tuchscherer believes that Gobeil will be up to the task.
“We have a stretch of 10 games here that are really quality opponents,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to see her lead us into those battles. Knowing Maddy she’ll treat each of those as learning experience as she prepares and she’s just going to continue to grow as an elite point guard in this country.”
The Cascades return to action on Friday (Jan. 13) when they host the Calgary Dinos (9-3) at 6 p.m. The two teams clash again on Saturday (Jan. 14) at 5 p.m.