Grizzlies prowl forward

STEPHEN SWEET Special to the Examiner

All it takes is a little time to get the ball rolling.

For the Georgian Grizzlies women's basketball team, that's roughly four games.

After starting the season at

1-3, the women's squad reeled off nine wins to jump from playoff hopeful to contender.

"We have girls that have played a number of years here and some who haven't, so we needed time to gel on the floor like they did off of it," said

Grizzlies head coach Marnie Buchanan.

"At the beginning of the season, we were still learning the systems and how to play together."

But following a mid-November loss at Durham College, the team picked up what they needed to in order to win consistently.

"After that point, things started to click in with the girls and adjustments were made," Buchanan said. "We started to play like we can."

Once the Grizzlies got going, their attitude changed. Case

and point - a head-to-head matchup with undefeated Algonquin College.

"I think the team that lost to them in November expected to lose to them," said fourth-year player Dana Campbell. "We didn't come into that game thinking we had a chance."

The Grizzlies were hammered, 76-48, for their worst loss of the season.

"We had already lost it before tip-off," Campbell said. "(Saturday's game) is a game we thought we could win."

And while they didn't pull out a victory, falling 63-58 to Algonquin, the Grizzlies proved they could hang with the best in the league.

They will likely finish either second in the East, which would give Georgian an automatic berth to the OCAA provincials in March, or third, and have to win a playoff contest to advance.

"I think we're in a great spot right now to get to provincials," said Grizzlies leading scorer, Summer Bly.

"Even if we don't get a bye to provincials, we'll host a playoff game to get in and that'll give us a good advantage."

The return of Bly to Georgian's lineup has made a massive difference.

"She's a fantastic player and she's worked really hard to get back here," said Buchanan of Bly, who missed all of the 2009-2010 season with a knee injury.

"Dana Marley and Danielle Horvat worked their butts off

last year when we didn't have Summer, so carrying that effort on this season with Summer has really helped us."

Bly, who leads the league in rebounds and is averaging almost a double-double per game, is glad to be back.

"It was a little bit harder than I expected (to get back)," Bly said. "The first semester, I was just getting my feet back.

"But now, I'm feeling a lot better. I've got my shot back and I'm getting to where I was a couple of years ago."

It has added another element to the Georgian game.

"This year, we're able to excel inside because we have size there," Buchanan said.

And when they can't put up points in the paint, there are options on the outside.

"We're strong on the perimeter, as our guards are very quick and have knowledge about the game," Buchanan said. "They're able to see what's going on and what needs to be done.

"It gives us a double threat, where we're strong inside, and if we get double-teamed there, we can kick it outside."

The whole process, which has been a few years in the making, has the coach proud.

"They're a great group of girls and it's been a pleasure to coach them," Buchanan said. "I've had some of them for three, four or five years, so I've seen them grow.

"Now they're really showcasing their talents, and it's great to see their hard work paying off."

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