Ariahna GrizzleOn October 3, 2016, the Bill Crothers Colts Prep team of Markham, ON, defeated the St Mary’s Crusaders of Hamilton, ON by a score of 41-36 to win the 2016 St Mary’s Senior Girls Tip-Off Classic Tournament.

Ahriahna Grizzle led a balanced Colts’ attack with 7 points in the low scoring affair, in a game that really helped their CoachJodi Gram, really get a look at what intangibles she has in her team this season.

“It was a good kind of ‘gut-check and mental fortitude’ game for us”, reflected Gram.

The Colts had to dig deep in the finals, after having to do just about everything that they could in order to get past prep league rivals, King’s Christian. They needed a couple of extra fames in order to win 77-74 to earn the right to play for this highly coveted championship, certainly cutting in to the expected 2 hour buffer time between semi-final and final.

“We obviously had the double overtime emotional win in the Semi-Final and there wasn’t a lot of time in between. People had to play through some fatigue and so the quality of basketball for us went a little bit down, but learning and having an opportunity to have to win those games when shots that you want to fall aren’t falling, is exactly why we play these early season games”, said Gram.

It was certainly the type of day that could galvanize the Colts who collectively took to the court for their first set of games of the season. After being in in the drivers’ seat with favorable results in the pool play portion of the event the team really needed to come together on the tournament’s championship Sunday that really became a grind to the finish.

Despite, the Colts’ early leads of 11-7 after the first quarter and 19-17 at the end of the first half, the Crusaders proved that they were always within striking distance.

“They can defend, they can score in a multitude of ways,” said Gram about the opponents her team had to face. “The way that they play…they’re always undersized, and even knowing how they’re going to play, it seems like they are always ready to go.”

“There’s a reason that they have so many [provincial] banners on their wall.”

Vanessa Hughes and Madison Trpcic answered the call for the Crusaders in the third quarter, connecting from three-point range on their way to 8 points each. But Grizzle and Leyki Sorra connected from long range themselves in the high scoring third and saw the Colts lead grow to 33-30 en route to the hard fought victory.

“Its so exciting that we can look at it as a real season,” said Gram, pleased with her team’s early results. “We got to work through some situations we haven’t practiced yet. Overall… so worthwhile.”

With this title now in hand, Gram recognizes that they intagibles that have started to show after weeks of individual training, indicate lots of potential for their upcoming season.

“I’m just so excited for where we are. We’ve got great buy-in as you can see. They are really driving our culture. They are nice kids who like to compete. In terms of the basketball part, and where it’s going to be three or four months from now, I’m really excited for what it’s going to look like.

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