Griffins set to face similarly young, hungry team in Winnipeg this weekend

Unity Obasuyi puts up a three-point attempt against Lethbridge last weekend. The Griffins head to Winnipeg this weekend (Gerard Murray photo).
Unity Obasuyi puts up a three-point attempt against Lethbridge last weekend. The Griffins head to Winnipeg this weekend (Gerard Murray photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – When the Griffins women's basketball team hits the Winnipeg Wesmen's gym on Friday, it will be a little bit like looking in a mirror.

One team is a young, hungry group growing, learning, and finding its way in the tough Canada West ranks.

The other is … well, ditto.

"I actually think Winnipeg is a team that's pretty similar to us," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams. "They have a very strong program with a really great team last year. They graduated a lot of seniors, so they have a few veteran players leading the charge for them but are otherwise very young and relying on a lot of young players to do some good things for them. Really relatable in a lot of ways, which is kind of exciting to see someone kind of like us: young and working hard and trying to make stuff happen."

Both MacEwan (1-13) and Winnipeg (3-11) are currently sitting outside the playoff picture, although with 12 teams qualifying and Manitoba (4-12) sitting 12th, they're both very much still alive.

The foes will meet on Friday (5 p.m. MT) and Saturday (6 p.m. MT, both Canada West TV).

So, while Adams and her young team still have plenty to play for this season, they're also trying to build something together for next year. They will lose leading scorer Noelle Kilbreath to graduation, as well as veteran Hayley Lalor – who has shifted into a coaching role in 2023-24 while recovering from an injury – but the rest of their group is eligible to return.

"It's always that piece of looking what's immediately in front of you but also preparing for the future," said Adams. "We know the future's very bright for this group, but we don't want to overlook the time still left in the season. 

"It's continuing to grow every weekend. What can we be better at this week in compared to last week? How can we continue to grow? How can we capitalize on those situations we're creating and gain more experience for our players? 

"With Noelle in the final games for our program, we want to finish her career in memorable fashion, and we want to use her skill and expertise to continue to help us grow and continue to take steps moving forward."

An immediate improvement for the Griffins would be in their shooting percentage, which fell to 15.1 per cent and 17.3 per cent, respectively, in a pair of losses to Lethbridge last weekend. Turning that around has certainly been a focus of practice this week.

"We're continuing to look at the situations where we're generating scoring opportunities and how we can be more assertive, so when we find ourselves in that situation again, we're able to capitalize a little bit more," said Adams. 

"The good thing looking at the situation is we've created the opportunities. Now, it's just that final piece of being able to finish and let the work that we've done to put ourselves in that situation pay off."