Concordia steals Wolves' Thunder
Herald-Tribune sports editor
The Wolves did exactly what they wanted to do, Friday night against Concordia.
The Thunder did exactly what they had to in Saturday's rematch.
The Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves and Concordia Thunder entered last weekend's basketball doubleheader as even as two teams can be.
They were tied for second atop the ACAC women's North Division standings, with 12-4 records.
They had split the doubleheader played in Grande Prairie in the first half of the season, with the Thunder holding the slimmest of leads in the tiebreaker – a single point.
A sweep would essentially guarantee second place in the North and a home playoff series.
Friday night in Edmonton, the Wolves took the upper hand.
A gutsy 86-80 overtime victory gave them the edge.
But the Thunder took that edge back Saturday night, shooting a remarkable 55 per cent from the floor to win 88-71.
The 17-point victory gives the Thunder the all-important tiebreaker, should both teams finish the season with identical win/loss records.
"They still have to play Grant MacEwan (first place, 14-2) in the last week of the regular season. We host them (MacEwan) in two weeks. So if we get the split, or the sweep of G Mac, that puts a lot of pressure back on them," explained Wolves head coach Kim Gravengard. "We'll just play it out."
It's not the situation the Wolves wanted to be in after last weekend, but there was no blame to be laid. It was simply a situation of two very evenly match teams playing two very competitive games.
"The girls played good games – I was happy with my team's play overall on the weekend," said Gravengard. "The biggest difference between Saturday and Friday night was we just couldn't put the ball in the basket as good as they (Thunder) were shooting. They are a high-percentage shooting team, but Saturday they were shooting at 55 per cent.
"That means every other time they got the ball in their hands, they were scoring."
The Wolves simply couldn't keep pace.
"We shot 38 per cent, which isn't horrible, but it just wasn't possible for us to match," said Gravengard. "They were on fire."
"You can sit there and look at what we could have or should have done, but realistically, we were playing a good game. The girls just couldn't get it in the basket."
That the Wolves came into Saturday with the upper hand is a credit to their tenacity.
They were down for most of Friday's game, until Melissa Buhler came through in the dying moments.
"She shot a three-pointer to tie it up," said Gravengard. "We lost the first quarter, lost the second quarter, won the third, fourth and fifth."
The Wolves were down by six after one quarter and trailed by nine at the half.
They came into the final period down by three points.
"It was a great effort by the girls," said Gravengard. "We adapted to situations very well. We were down by as many as 12 points in the first quarter. But the girls kept their calm and we played our own game."
Gravengard said the team's mindset is positive, despite the setback.
"The girls were like, 'oh, you know, we should have done better, but that game is over. We've got to move on.'
"They are already focusing on the next set of games, in two weeks, against Grant MacEwan."
GAME NOTES: Erin Slemp led the Wolves' offence Friday, with 25 points. Laura Dunsdon had her second double-double of the season, with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Buhler (21) and Jaelle Duinker (10) also hit double digits. Leah MacNeil hit double digits in rebounding, with 11 boards. Buhler (20) and Dunsdon (18) were the only Wolves to score more than nine points Saturday. Slemp had 11 rebounds.