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Thunder Women’s Basketball Have a ‘Heart Felt’ Weekend

Posted on: Feb 17, 2015

In their final home stand of the season, the Thunder Women’s Basketball team took on the Keyano Huskies. This was a crucial weekend as the Women’s Basketball team was sitting four points back of the Huskies for the last playoff spot.  “We knew what we were up against as Keyano has a well balanced scoring attack. They have inside presence, shooters and a veteran point guard,” opened Coach Valpreda. The game began on a very aggressive note for both teams and the Thunder did an excellent job of running the ball in transition and finishing around the rim. After one quarter of play the Thunder were up 17-11. As the second quarter began the Huskies started to be the bullies on the glass. The Thunder gave up 14 offensive boards to the Huskies and they took a 25-23 lead going into halftime. As the second half started, it was the Thunder that set the tone with offensive fire power. “Lina and Shy kept us in the game. Shy did an excellent job dealing with their pressure and Lina struggled in the beginning but picked up the pace.”  Defense is where the Thunder got hurt. “Our post defense was non-existent tonight. Our effort was not there and in games like this we need that effort on defense to help close out the game.”  The Thunder ended up on the losing end of a 59-53 decision. “We had a great chance; a lot of positives on the offensive end, but tonight our defense as a TEAM hurt us. It also doesn’t help when we only shoot 50% from the free throw line and lose by 6.” Congratulations to Karolina Wieczorek for being selected as the Player of the Game with 27pts and 7 rebounds.
On Saturday the Thunder had an afternoon matinee with the Huskies. Not only was this an important game for the team but the Women’s Basketball program were recognizing Karolina Wieczorek and Meagan McIntosh as graduating players. “This is a special moment for them as players and for our program. Meg and Lina have grown into exceptional leaders on and off the court. They have improved by leaps and bounds with their fundamentals and skills. It's been an honour and privilege to have coached these young ladies the last two seasons and to have seen how much they have matured and what they have done for this program. They have helped me grow as a Coach and their time here at Concordia will not be forgotten,” stated Coach Valpreda. "This game was very emotional for both players as it would be the last time they would play on their home court."  As the game began the Thunder jumped out to an early lead and after one quarter of play, the Thunder had a 16-9 lead. “In the timeout, I could see in their faces how emotional this was for my two graduating players. It was intense; I could see what it meant to them being here at Concordia the last four years.” As the second quarter started, the Thunder picked up were they left off, going into half time up 35-30.  "Our halftime message was to keep going; don’t let our guards down due to the emotions." As the second half began the Thunder jumped out to a seven-point lead, but the tide would turn as the Huskies also recognized what these games meant.  Led by their 5th year guard, they came back and tied the game at 42-42. As the final quarter was coming to a close, the game was tied up with just 1:30 left on the clock. “Again we did a good job of staying focused, calm and collected as every time they scored we did also.”  With 30 seconds left in the game the Huskies were up two. The Thunder made a good effort to score but fell short and had to foul to gain possession of the ball. “We fouled the right player as she missed both free-throws and gave the Thunder one more chance to score. But a crucial offensive board by the Huskies led the Thunder to foul again and the game ended with a 79-75 win for the Huskies. “This one hurts a lot. Both games were close. We did an awesome job with shooting 54% FG and 82% from the FT. You'd think by those stats that you would win the game.  It's hard, really hard for our players and coaches as these girls bust their butts day in and day out and we have had some really close games in the last quarter of the season. Today everyone scored; our rookies are doing exceptionally well. Jess (Freitag) played incredible tonight, Shy again was our leader with 17pts, 4 steals and 3 assists. Sometimes it takes going through a tough stretch to really understand how far you have to go as a team and as individuals to trust one another and build the character to become a triumphant program." Congratulations to Shy Walton on being Player of the Game.
The Thunder will now enjoy a bye week before heading up to Grande Prairie to finish the season on February 27th and 28th.

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