Wolves rebound to earn split
Female hoopsters salvage a win against league-leading Thunder
The Thunder rolled over Grande Prairie Friday night.
Saturday, the Wolves bit back.
Coming off a humbling 20-point loss to the Concordia University College Thunder in the ACAC weekend-opener Friday, the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves women's basketball squad needed to prove to itself that it could match up with the North Division's top team.
And the Wolves did just that in the rematch.
The teams traded the lead throughout the final five minutes of Saturday's game, before Jaelle Duinker hit for the winning basket with under 30 seconds to play as the Wolves prevailed 66-63.
The win moves the Wolves into sole possession of third place in the North Division at 12-6, four points behind the second-place Grant MacEwan Griffins.
The Thunder remain atop the North Division standings at 16-4.
"The biggest challenge for these girls is to mentally believe they're good enough to do it," said Wolves head coach Kim Gravengard. "You can say it, but you have to believe it and today they believed it. They know they're a great team and they showed it. They never panicked, they played patient and they did the job they had to do. That was good to see."
While his team had to settle for the split following a convincing 75-55 win Friday, Thunder head coach Todd Warnick tipped his hat to both teams in Saturday's showdown.
"They played extremely hard," he said. "Grande Prairie came out hitting big shots early. I was proud of my kids. They defended very hard down the stretch and put us in a position to get the win.
"It was a tough road trip. This is a tough gym to play in and Grande Prairie does a great job of defending their home court. They deserved the win (Saturday). They hit shots today that they didn't (Friday) and I knew today was going to be a harder game. You don't beat a team back-to-back that is the calibre of Grande Prairie by 20-plus, you just don't."
With the Wolves trailing by one in the final minute, Duinker dished out a layup that found nothing but net.
"She's a great player," Gravengard said of Duinker. "She's a dynamite point guard and she's been struggling with a bad cold, but she just pulled through and kept herself going. You have to be able to make it when it counts and she did that."
Melissa Buhler sealed the win with a pair of foul shots in the final seconds of the game.
First-year Wolves forward Lenka Rohova turned in a performance Saturday that earned her player of the game honours, scoring 12 points and adding five rebounds. The five-foot-11 rookie, who originally hails from Bratislava, Slovakia, is getting used to the Canadian college basketball game, said Gravengard.
"She's starting to get into the rhythm of how to play here," said Gravengard. "It's a little bit different over there. They have a lot more contact. She's starting to know how to play with the girls. She's doing great and is strong enough to bring the ball up the court.