The Wolves are in! - Weekend series sweep of NAIT puts GPRC women a berth in ACAC basketball post-season
The GPRC Wolves women's basketball team locked up a playoff spot by sweeping a two-game series against the NAIT Ooks on the weekend.
"Now we're secure. We have that playoff spot and that gives a little bit of relaxation because now we can change our strategy a bit," said Wolves coach Kim Gravengard.
"Knowing you're going there (to the playoffs) is a good feeling this early in the season."
The Wolves beat the Ooks 83-73 on Friday and 92-86 on Saturday.
The matchup featured two of the league's top scorers in NAIT's Dale-Marie Cumberbatch (24.75 points per game) and Wolves guard Melissa Buhler (17.31 ppg).
"She's definitely a great scorer, but I think it's most important to get the win," Buhler said.
"If I can do that with 30 points or with 10 points, that's really what's most important. So in a way I don't envy her at all because her team isn't up there in the wins even though I do respect her as a player."
Gravengard gave the responsibility of shutting down the league's second-leading scorer to Erin Slemp and Lenka Rohova, who was seeing her first league action since early November, when she broke her right hand in a game against MacEwan College.
Cumberbatch was able to score 25 points on Friday and another 29 on Sunday, but it still wasn't enough.
"Lenka and Erin did a great job on Dale-Marie," Gravengard said. "She's averaging 25 to 30 points a game. That's a tough girl to stop. They did a good job of closing out on her and forcing her to use people on her own team instead of them relying on her to be the sole scorer."
Buhler scored 17 points on Saturday, but got the better of Cumberbatch in the rematch, putting up 31.
With a playoff spot secured, the Wolves will turn their attention to the next three matchups on the schedule.
All are against the other three teams likely to make the playoffs and will be key in determining playoff positioning.
"Right now, we're in first place and we have a secured spot for playoffs," Gravengard said. "It's just a matter of what position for playoffs. We've just got to push through for the next weekend."
The Wolves are currently in a three-way tie for first place in the North Division with 24 points, but sit in third due to tie-breaking procedures.
The team will have to move up to host a playoff series.
"We're not going to stop now," Buhler said. "We want to host a playoff series so we're really hoping to get that first or second spot locked up."