ABBOTSFORD — Some of our best memories are stored away just below the surface, needing just a figurative nudge from within to bring a smile to our faces.
Fraser Valley Cascades head women’s basketball coach Al Tuchscherer had just such a moment on Tuesday when he was asked to speak about his earliest memories of the blue-chip high school point guard he officially announced Wednesday as part of what has become a truly star-studded incoming 2019-20 recruiting class.
“The very first time I saw her was when she was in Grade 9 and playing for her club team,” began Tuchscherer of reigning B.C. senior girls Double A tournament MVP point guard Maddy Gobeil of the provincial champion South Kamloops Titans.
“First, she was diving into the parents to save loose balls,” he continued of the 5-foot-9 Gobeil. “Then she was diving into the scorer’s table to do the same. I said to myself right there ‘If I am fortunate enough, someday I’d like to coach this kid.’”
In the subsequent years, it’s happened on provincial teams and within the club season, but now it’s for the five-year length of a U Sports career.
The addition of Gobeil brings to four the number of blue-chip recruits set to step on the Envision Financial Athletic Centre gym floor this coming fall.
Already, 6-foot-1 Deanna Tuchscherer, whose G.W. Graham Grizzlies lost in overtime to the Gobeil’s Titans in last season’s B.C. Double A final, has signed on to join her dad’s program.
Recently, the Cascades added another pair of dynamic senior guards to the program with the commitments of Dr. Charles Best’s Nikki Cabuco and Poco-Riverside’s Jessica Parker.
Said Tuchscherer of Cabuco: “Nikki is one of the best teammates I have ever seen. She loves to set up her teammates, she leads the break, she’s a fantastic perimetre shooter, she plays with a lot of speed. People love to play with her.”
Said Tuchscherer of Parker: “Jess is a kid who loves to play a tough style of basketball. But she is so skilled and she can shoot the ball, too. She really likes to get out in transition and she can finish, so she gives us a few weapons to go to.”
With UFV not graduating a single player from its current team which sits sixth in the 17-team Canada West at the winter break with a 7-5 record, the script has seemingly be written for a return to national prominence.
And as far as her high school coach is concerned, UFV is getting a player with not only every requisite box ticked off in the so-called areas of ‘basketball IQ’ and skill, but in the especially rare area of being physically ready to step into a league in which the competition can regularly be four-to-five years a pure freshman’s senior.
“I seeing her making that transition seamlessly,” says South Kam head coach Del Komarniski, who brings his team to the Langley Events Centre for the 16-team girls edition of the Tsumura Basketball Invitational Dec. 13-15.
“In my opinion, if she had been a Grade 12 (last season), she would have been ready to play (in U Sports). That kind of tenacity transfers anywhere. Fortunately me, she has not yet graduated and so we’ll be able to have some fun this year before she heads off to UFV.”
On a team which also includes UBC-bound 6-foot-6 forward Olivia Morgan-Cherchas, Gobeil was its unquestioned leader, playing the glue role and shifting to any place on the court she was needed.
Last season, in a 71-52 B.C. semifinal win over St. Thomas Aquinas, Gobeil’s 35-point performance included a brilliant 17-for-17 performance form the free throw line. She averaged 34 points per game at the B.C. tournament.
As the new season hits the two week-mark, Gobeil says there is no question what her No. 1 goal as a senior is.
“I definitely want to focus on my abilities as a leader, especially being a point guard,” she begins. “That’s a big factor this season but also at the university level where it will be more difficult. But I just feel like I need to use my voice more.”
The rest of her game is doing just fine, and as Komarniski explains, it’s become a South Kam tradition to preach not only being an athlete, but being multi-skilled one within the game.
“Typically speaking we like to think of the kids as being complete players,” Komarniski begins, referencing a pair of unique examples, including the school’s most famous ever in NBAer Kelly Olynyk. “Even with Olivia at 6-6, we don’t want her just playing at the rim. We want the bigger players to develop their guard skills just like we did with Kelly. We’ve taken that same philosophy with Maddy as well.”
And thus Gobeil may well be able to bring a very dynamic and versatile look to the Cascades, especially as it pertains to the partnership she will build with Deanna Tuchscherer, who she has gotten to know as a friend over the years after playing alongside side her on both provincial and club teams.
“I had been considering UFV for a while, and with Deanna and I being quite close, that was a factor,” Gobeil says, “knowing that we play well together and that we could both be a part of being able to help get things going there.”
UFV coach Tuchscherer also remembers seeing Gobeil in action in that provincial semifinal game last season against St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I saw her and thought she was literally ready to run through a wall,” Tuchscherer remembers.”But that is the kind of kid she is, someone who will run through a wall for you.”
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