Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Few players remain from the Griffins women's basketball team that scored a stunning upset two years ago over the No. 1-ranked team in the country at the time, the Regina Cougars.
It's not really possible to directly draw on that 73-72 Nov. 12, 2016 triumph as the current edition of the Griffins gets set to face Regina again this weekend (Friday and Saturday, both 5 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).
But as a historical lesson, it's a good one: anybody can win on any given night.
"I think a little bit," said MacEwan head coach Katherine Adams when asked if the team can harken back to that win, accomplished by ferocious swarming defence and hustle. "We don't have many players on our roster from that year. We have a very different team.
"Our philosophy's still the same – defensive effort and focus is still a point of emphasis for us. That hasn't changed. The big lesson is just knowing that on paper that most teams will look at this matchup and say, 'Regina's a ranked team, they're 6-2 and our record is 4-6, Regina should win this series.' But that's why you play the games. You have to show up."
The Canada West defending champions are currently ranked ninth in U SPORTS and enter this weekend's play on a four-game winning streak.
"They have strength across the board – inside, outside. Kyanna Giles is really good. Carolina Goncalves was Canada West rookie of the year last year," noted Adams.
"They've got depth and they've got lots of ways they can attack and hurt you. But again, we focus on us and what we do well and that's the emphasis moving forward."
MacEwan started the season with four-straight losses but enter the weekend on a three-game winning streak after sweeping Mount Royal University. Their confidence is booming behind top scorers Kayla Ivicak and Mackenzie Farmer, and a cast of emerging secondary scoring.
Throw all that into the pot with grit and defensive fortitude and the recipe is there for a potential upset this weekend.
"We've won three in a row now. That's a big thing for a young program that's just learning to find its feet and learning how to win," said Adams. "Definitely, we've gained some confidence after we've been in some close game situations and found a way to get it done when we've needed to. We definitely can build on that and take confidence moving forward."