|Volume 92, Issue 58
Tuesday, January 12, 1999
'Stang Grozelle slays Gryphon attack
The Western Mustangs and Guelph Gryphons renewed their rivalry at the House of Slam in Guelph on Saturday.
Strong defensive play by both sides kept the game close with the Mustangs holding onto a slim four point lead with seven minutes remaining in the game.
With the game's outcome still in doubt, the shortest man on the floor came up with several big time plays. Mustang Jim Grozelle, the five-foot-seven rookie point guard from Muirkirk, Ontario, went to the foul line twice in the last few minutes of the game. By draining all five of his attempts he was able to hold off any last minute Gryphon heroics. The Mustangs walked out with a 77-71 victory.
Gryphon head coach Chris O'Rourke knew his team was in for a tough contest and prepared accordingly.
"As far as the defence goes, we spent a lot of time this week working on going after the guards and trying to limit the looks we gave Micah [Bourdeau] and [Nat] Graham," O'Rourke said. "We definitely did a much better job in the first half."
The Gryphons' smothering defence frustrated the Mustangs, forcing the Western offence to turn the ball over 14 times in the half. Led by fifth-year forward Malik Shebaz, Guelph took a slim 37-36 lead into half-time. An ankle injury late in the first half and fatigue, brought on by the fasting involved in Ramadan, limited Shebaz's minutes in the second half.
Western showcased its depth throughout the game, making quick substitutions and keeping fresh legs on the floor. Guards Stephan Barrie and Peter Kratz each performed well off the bench, hitting key three-pointers late in the game. Western's bench contributed 29 points in the winning effort.
Mustang head coach Craig Boydell was pleased with the play of his bench players, particularly Barrie and Kratz.
"Stephan Barrie really got the icer for us in this game. He got the field goal that put us in the lead for good and then he iced two foul shots," Boydell said. "And then Pete Kratz banged down three [three-pointers] off the bench. We've got a lot of confidence in the guys we have coming on."
Fifth-year forward Nat Graham said he appreciated the efforts of his fellow players.
"I think a few of the guys who are normally key players had a rough game," Graham said. "Fortunately we've got some other guys who were able to step up and come up with some big plays."
Boydell was very pleased with the play of Grozelle.
"The question for us was how the rookies in particular would play in the games when the stakes go up," Boydell said. "Jimmy did some great things down the line."
O'Rourke said Grozelle's composure under pressure was impressive, especially from a rookie.
"[Grozelle] has a tremendous amount of talent. He really stepped up for them. I'd have to say that of their starters, he performed the best," O'Rourke said.
The Mustangs hit the floor for their home opener at 8 p.m. Wednesday night at Alumni Hall against the Waterloo Warriors.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999