Vernon's Kaneda caps court career in style

An emotional Melissa Irish (inside left) and UBC Okanagan Heat teammate Madison Kaneda, a Vernon product, celebrate their final game of Canada West women’s basketball. - Dale Abbey Photo
An emotional Melissa Irish (inside left) and UBC Okanagan Heat teammate Madison Kaneda, a Vernon product, celebrate their final game of Canada West women’s basketball.
— image credit: Dale Abbey Photo

Madison Kaneda ended her Canada West women’s basketball career in much the same way she has played since her high school days with the Fulton Maroons – as a clutch shooter.

Kaneda, a fifth-year guard with the UBC Okanagan Heat, hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to put away the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack 68-63 Saturday night at UBCO gym. The victory marked the Heat’s sixth win of the season and sent its three graduating seniors out on a high note.

“I’m not really ready for it to be over, but I’m so thankful for my career,” said Kaneda, who finished the game with six points. “I couldn’t have asked for better teammates. It was a great run.”

Kaneda played two seasons of B.C. Colleges Athletic Association ball with the Heat (they joined Canada West in 2011-12) then joined the Ottawa Gee Gees for a season. Inevitably, she was drawn back to the Okanagan, spending her final two years of playing eligibility in her backyard.

“I’m so glad I came back,” said Kaneda. “It was the best decision for me and my last two years have been so much fun. I’m just happier being closer to home, closer to my family and having them come out to every game.”

UBC Okanagan got out to an early start against TRU and didn’t trail until early in the fourth quarter. Second-year guard Sarah Allison (South Surrey) paced the Heat with a game-high 23 points, and third-year post Krystal Schouten (Winnipeg) had eight rebounds and 14 points.

Rookie post Rebecca Fernandez led the WolfPack with 14 points and grabbed five rebounds in only 20 minutes of play. Fifth-year post Diane Schuetze (Vernon) contributed 13 points and five boards.

Heat athletics honored Kaneda and graduating teammates Roslyn Huber (Kelowna) and Melissa Irish (Victoria) in a ceremony following the game.

Said head coach Heather Semeniuk: “I think they’re unique and pretty neat because they understand each other so well. And when you can get them playing with each other, supporting each other and depending on each other, that’s when we play our best basketball.”

Added Kaneda: “I just wanted to thank my parents (Kelly and Pam), my grandmas, my brother and sister for all their support and love, and all my coaching staff for helping me get to where I am today.”

Kaneda graduates this spring with a degree in human kinetics. She plans to work for a year and is considering a masters degree in marine biology.

Meanwhile, Coldstream’s Lenai Schmidt earned a game-high 24 digs as the Heat were eliminated from the Canada West women’s volleyball playoffs after a 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 15-25, 25-21, 15-13) loss to the Mount Royal Cougars of Calgary in quarterfinal action Friday in Kelowna.

Katie Wuttunee (2nd year, North Vancouver) delivered 11 kills and added four blocks, and Katy Klomps (2nd year, Surrey), anchored the Heat frontline with nine block assists, two solo blocks and four kills.

Julia Pasieka (4th year, Calgary) led Mount Royal with 15 kills.

The Cougars will join the UBC Thunderbirds, Trinity Western Spartans and Alberta Golden Pandas in the Canada West final four this weekend at War Memorial Gymnasium in Vancouver.

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