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Thunder Women’s Basketball ‘Keep the Ball Rolling’

Posted on: Nov 17, 2014

This weekend the Thunder Women’s Basketball team took on the Wolves from Grande Prairie. Both teams were coming into the weekend with two wins and were hungry for more. “Last weekend we were good. We hope to continue where we left off and look for another win tonight,” stated Head Coach Robbie Valpreda prior to Friday night's opening game. As the game began, the Thunder jumped out to any early 6-0 run. “We were quick and our defense helped create our offensive opportunities.” But the game went into 'cruise control', with neither team being able to make any baskets. “It was like the hoops had lids on them.” Going into the halftime the score was just 16-16. “We focus on being better each game, but our focus tonight was to forget about the first 20 minutes and pick it up in the 2nd half."  In the second half the Thunder were better and played with more effort and intensity. However, nearing the end of the game, the Wolves went up 30-25. “We took a timeout and told the girls to relax, to focus on one play at time and keep chipping away,” said Valpreda. Even though she'd had an 'off' night to that point, veteran Aly Bridgeman's ability to create steals and her effort to finish at the rim is what helped the Thunder back into the game. “Even though Aly struggled and the ball didn’t seem to drop for her tonight, she stuck with it and made some clutch free-throws at the end,” concluded Valpreda. The final score was 37-34 for the Thunder with rookie Jessica Freitag being named Player of the Game.
On Saturday, the Thunder took to the court at 1 PM for the matinee affair. “We're not used to these (afternoon) games but Grande Prairie is.  We knew that we had to be better than last night in our focus, our discipline and our effort,” opened Valpreda.  As was the case the night before, the Thunder got out in front early but the Wolves clawed their way back into the game, going into halftime down by three, 21-18. “We pressed and they turned the ball over 14 times. The problem is we didn’t capitalize on their mistakes and we couldn’t give ourselves enough room.”  As the second half unfolded, the Thunder found themselves again in a tough position as both 4th year players – Karolina Wieczorek and Meagan McIntosh – found themselves in foul trouble. “Our discipline on the defensive end needs to be better especially from our veterans. We rely on them to be on the court in close games and we need to make better choices,” opined Valpreda. With the veteran leaders on the bench, the Thunder's 'new' players came on and gave the team some much needed momentum. “Heather (Killips) and Jessica (Freitag) did a great job, Heather made some shots for us on offense and Jessica was tough and rebounded for us on the defensive end. Another positive note is that 3rd year Guard Aly Bridgeman shook off the doldrums of the night before and led the team with 22 points. We were great today. The girls worked hard and stuck with it, but things are always a lot easier when we're making our lay-ups and shots.”  The final score was 49-37 in favour of the Thunder, giving them their fourth consecutive win. Player of the Game was Aly Bridgeman.
The Thunder will now hit the road for a pair of games, heading up to Ft. McMurray to face the Keyano Huskies, Friday night at 6 and again on Saturday afternoon at 1 PM.


Photo Courtesy of John McIntosh