ABBOTSFORD — Don’t hold it against Jessica Parker just because she doesn’t know the history of the Fab Five.
After all, the Fraser Valley Cascades’ high-scoring pure freshman guard wasn’t even born when Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King arrived on the scene, baggy shorts and all, way back in 1991, ready to lead the Michigan Wolverines to the NCAA title game as first-year college players.
All you really need to know is that when it comes to freshmen recruiting classes, she and fellow first-years Deanna Tuchscherer, Maddy Gobeil and Nikki Cabuco are making their own kind of impact on the Canadian women’s university scene as UFV’s young-and-restless Fab Four, a moniker that has long since been taken but on Saturday was truly apropos.
Parker scored a career-high 19 points to lead all scorers while fellow frosh teammates Tuchscherer (15 points, 11 rebounds), Gobeil (12 points) and Cabuco (four points) also shone, the quartet combining for 50 points as the Cascades (6-4) rallied back from a tough loss Friday against the visiting UBC Thunderbirds (8-4) to claim a 77-62 victory and earn a promising weekend split.
“It’s just so much fun to play with (the freshmen),” said Cascades veteran forward Taylor Claggett, who supplied 16 points and nine rebounds in her dual-role as team scoring leader and mentor.
“They all bring so much energy and as you get older, you do feel more tired,” Claggett continued. “I feel it in my body. But every day in practice, they bring so much energy. They want it as badly as I do.”
And after dropping a 76-74 decision to UBC on Friday, Claggett was determined to help her teammates play an unrelenting pace, and after a 36-13 start about 90 seconds into the second quarter, the tone had clearly been set.
“Today we said we’re not okay with just competing anymore,” Claggett stated. “We wanted to do it and prove a point, and that is that UFV is not just little UFV anymore. We can compete with powerhouses and you could tell by our fist half. Everyone contributed.”
Especially the Cascades four pure freshmen.
They logged 52:44 of the first half’s 100 available player minutes, shooting a combined 8-of-18 from the field and nine-of-10 from the free throw line for 27 of the team’s 47 points.
Tuchscherer, who equalled Claggett’s team-high 10 points at the break, also had a game-high eight rebounds.
Parker had three steals in addition to her nine points, while Cabuco and Gobeil each scored four points.
Fraser Valley took it’s biggest lead of the game in the second minute of the second quarter when third-year guard Alexis Worrell put on a dribble-pivot show, driving to the edge of the paint, then using a spin-pivot move followed by an up-and-under bank off the window for a 36-13 lead.
UBC’s tough first half included a 26.7 per cent shooting effort from the field, including 0-for-10 from distance.
“It was exciting to see us come out with that much energy and it carried us to the end,” said UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer. “(The freshmen) are a pretty talented group, there is no doubt about it, but it’s their maturity and competitive level that really carries them. It’s exciting to see them compete against a veteran team like UBC and not back down. They are a special group for sure.”
Yet as coach Tuchscherer will readily admit, he has the perfect blend of veterans — like Claggett and fourth-year guard Amanda Thompson — to allow the Fab Four to do their stuff.
“There was a stage in the game where Amanda was off the floor and Taylor was in a bit of foul trouble, and we lost our way a bit,” he said. “Make no mistake, those are still the kinds of players who steer the ship for us.”
UBC just had one of those nights.
The Birds got dual 18-point performances from Jessica Hanson and Keylyn Filewich, yet the team on the whole was snakebitten around the hoop early, and finished the first half 0-for-10 from distance.
UBC pulled as close as nine points at 55-46 but Deanna Tuchscherer and Parker continued their torrid scoring pace with big baskets over the final two minutes of play.
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