Former high school star Gobeil returns to Kamloops with Cascades to play hometown WolfPack

Deanna Tuchscherer is either not the envious type or she hides her green-eyed monster well.

Roommate Maddy Gobeil — whose South Kamloops Titans were victorious over Deanna and the GW Graham Grizzlies of Chilliwack in back-to-back provincial finals — keeps B.C. Secondary Schools AA Girls Basketball Championship rings on display in their apartment.

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“I get to see those every day,” Deanna said. “It’s all right. I’ll let her have it.”

Magnanimous? Perhaps.

But the 6-foot-1 forward can brush off high-school heartbreak with ease for at least two more reasons: Maddy and Deanna are the two best friends anyone could have and they joined forces to form the nucleus of a potential U Sports super power.

Maddy, the two-time provincial championship MVP Kamloopsian who decided to take her talents to Abbotsford, will on Friday make her first appearance in a Fraser Valley Cascades’ uniform at the Tournament Capital Centre, marking the beginning of a storyline that will likely steal headlines in this city for the next five years.

Deanna Tuchscherer
Deanna Tuchscherer and Maddy Gobeil live together, play basketball on the same team and are in most of the same classes at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford. - Dan Kinvig/Fraser Valley Cascades

The TRU WolfPack (7-9) and Cascades (12-4) will tip off at 7 p.m., with the rematch slated to get underway at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Deanna and Maddy clicked while playing together for the under-15 provincial team, coached by Al Tuchscherer, the head coach of the Cascades’ women’s basketball squad.

Al is Deanna’s father.

The point guard from Kamloops billeted with the Tuchscherers for a few summers, endearing herself to family and coach, the latter impressed most by Maddy’s toughness and grit.

By the time Grade 11 rolled around, Maddy and Deanna were among the top senior girls in B.C. and on Canadian and U.S. post-secondary school radars in a big way.

The Grizzly was interested in going down south. The Titan was not.

Deanna explored options and eventually decided to stay close to home and play for dad — and chase Canada West titles with her all-star best buddy.

“When I made that decision [near the end of the summer before Grade 12], I talked to her and kind of told her what I was thinking and it seemed we both had the same idea, coming here and knowing that potential is there,” Deanna said. “The success we could potentially have was definitely a factor.”

They play basketball on the same team, live together and are in most of the same classes. They rarely quarrel, despite flaunted jewelry, and boast on-court chemistry.

“She can find me and I can tend to find her,” Deanna said.

Lebron James-type proclamations — not one, not two, not three, not four … — just aren’t their thing, but early returns suggest the Cascades are entering a winning window.

Veteran standouts, including Fraser Valley’s all-time leading scorer Taylor Claggett, have embraced the rookie group that includes Maddy, Deanna and two more highly touted 2019 B.C. high school graduates — guards Jessica Parker of Princeton and Nikki Cabuco of Port Moody.

Maddy, whose nine points per game leave her third on the team in the category — behind Deanna (15.6) and Taylor (20.2) — has played in 14 of the club’s 16 regular-season contests, starting in 12.

The backcourt general, still learning to direct traffic at the Canada West level, likely would have started all 16 games if not for a hamstring injury.

“It was a big transition for me at the beginning of the year,” Maddy said. “It’s hard to try to lead people older than you. I feel like I didn’t really have the right to do that. I felt like they should be telling me what to do.

“The fifth-years, they’ve given me the confidence that, as a point guard, I have to be a leader, telling me that I can boss them around, and I have to do that.”

Deanna and Jessica, fixtures in the starting lineup, and Nikki, usually first off the bench, have played in all 16 games.

“We have a pretty nice group of freshmen. It absolutely catches the attention of future recruits,” Al Tuchscherer said. “We’ve been able to win some games here and have a little bit of success. That goes a long way, just seeing the impact they’ve had on our program immediately.”

Olivia Morgan-Cherchas, a 6-foot-6 forward, and 5-foot-7 Maddy were key cogs on the 2018 and 2019 South Kam championship squads and both opted to leave home, the taller of the two now toiling for the UBC Thunderbirds.

Did Maddy ever consider playing for the WolfPack?

“Honestly, no,” she said. “I wanted to get out of my hometown and experience something else.”

Coach Al is spoiled with riches.

“The sky is the limit and it’s going to depend on what sort of job I do surrounding them with players as we graduate some of our fourth- and fifth-year kids,” he said. “The pressure is on me a little bit there. They are a great nucleus.”

More plunder may arrive.

There is another Tuchscherer daughter, Julia, a 6-foot-2 G.W. Graham top prospect who featured prominently in the 2019 senior girls’ B.C. final. She was in Grade 9.

Maddy and Deanna will be in Year 4 with the Cascades when Julia becomes eligible to make the jump to Fraser Valley.

“She likes to bug me and Deanna — ‘I’m not sure if you guys are good enough yet,’” Al said with a laugh. “We’ll see how it goes with J. She’s a funny one.”

This weekend’s games at the TCC are pivotal for both clubs.

Fraser Valley is fifth in conference standings, a post-season berth already secured as it pursues Alberta and UBC, both four points ahead of the Cascades.

TRU, flooring an inspired team under first-year bench boss Goran Nogic, is in a four-way logjam in ninth place, with four tilts remaining on its schedule, including two against hometown Lethbridge (7-9) on the last weekend of the regular season.

The top 12 teams in the 17-team conference will qualify for the playoffs.

From an individual standpoint, Maddy’s return to Kamloops is the draw.

“There is definitely going to be a little bit of inspiration and motivation there, being able to play in front of some familiar faces,” Deanna said of her pal’s Kamloops homecoming.

Added Maddy: “I’m super excited. I’ll have all my family and friends there. It’ll be nice to play in front of my hometown again.”

The WolfPack might not have appetite for the Maddy-comes-home storyline. The idea of that yarn spinning into five years of torment must be sickening.

TRU would rather pen an anti-hero thriller, beginning Friday with Chapter 1: Homecoming Ruined.

The Cascades would love to author a dynastic fairytale.

“This year we’re set up to make a run in the playoffs,” Deanna said. “Long term, being a contender for national championships is the end goal for us.”

Bidding adieu

Emma Piggin and Leilani Carney, TRU's graduating fifth-year players, will be honoured before Saturday's game.

KTW will have more on graduating WolfPack basketball players in the coming weeks.

© Kamloops This Week



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