Grizz claws ahead
This year, it all came together when they needed it to.
The Georgian Grizzlies girls basketball team won their crossover playoff game against the Fanshawe Falcons 70-58 Saturday night to advance to the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association's provincial championships, being held at Algonquin College in Ottawa.
It will be the first time in five years that the Grizzlies are headed to the provincials.
"I'm so excited for them," said Grizzlies head coach Marnie Buchanan. "They worked so hard and it's nice to see their hard work pay off.
"We've been to the crossover game for the past three years and now their work has paid off to reach the provincials."
The last time Georgian was at the OCAA basketball championships was in 2006, when they were held at Redeemer College. No one from the current squad, including their head coach, was yet on the team.
It's meant a lot of heart-breaks and close calls for veterans like Summer Bly.
"Oh my gosh, it feels so good (to finally get there)," Bly said. "It's been four long years and this team is so good."
Bly was just three swats short of a triple-double, putting up 14 points and 11 rebounds to go with her game-high seven blocks.
"We worked so well together as a unit," Bly said. "We had a lot of different girls blocking, stealing, and rebounding, so we were all in it as a team."
Dana Marley went seven-for-nine from the free-throw line to lead the team with 17 points, and Sarah Williams added 16 along with four steals.
"We were very energetic," Bly said. "It was a great effort and we left it all out on the floor."
Phyna Lim led Fanshawe with 15 points and Natasha Amo added 14, as the Falcons ramped up the pace of the game late in an attempt to tie things up. It forced the Grizzlies to take a timeout and refocus.
"We just said that we needed to stay calm and relax the game, because things were getting a little hectic out there," Bly said. "That's not our game.
"We just needed to slow down the pace a bit and get control back."
Ge o r g i a n , which held a 29-18 lead at the half, were moving quickly early in the second half, and it led to both turnovers and fast-break points.
"We just wanted to extend the lead that we had," Buchanan said. "We knew they were going to come back and we needed to keep doing and maintain what we did in the first half when we were successful."
The Grizzlies were able to do so, holding a 17-point advantage with seven minutes to go in the game.
Fanshawe tried to press the Grizzlies and force turnovers on Georgian's half of the court, but lessons learned from a recent loss proved invaluable for Buchanan's bunch.
"After our game against Seneca, we worked on relaxing, knowing that pressure is going to come," Buchanan said. "We worked on staying under control, focused, and running our systems."
They'll certainly be tested on those facets when Georgian faces Humber College in the provincial quarter-finals on Thursday.
"We still need to relax in our press," Bly said. "We get too frazzled and it gets hectic there, so we just need to have confidence in our ability to bring the ball up the floor."
But if they work to their strengths, Buchanan thinks they'll be just fine.
"We have to focus on what is our game, which is getting the ball inside," Buchanan said. "We have that strength down low and we have to use it."