Western Grizzlies

The 1998 National Women's Wheelchair Basketball Tournament

The Western Grizzlies Win The Championship

The 1998 National Women's Wheelchair Basketball Tournament was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota March 3 - 6, 1998.JJ In the championship game the Western Grizzlies came back from an early 10 - 2 deficit to defeat the hometown Minnesota Rolling Timberwolves by a score of J 44 - 39.J Congratulations to Coach Susie Grimes and all the Grizzlies who make their base in Eugene, OR as a program of World Wheelchair Sports.  For a more in-depth look at Women's Wheelchair Basketball please go to http://www.unomaha.edu/~brasile/usawomen.htm The 1998 Championship Game P Western Grizzlies 44 P Minnesota Rolling Timberwolves 39  JJJ With this being only their second year in the tournament the Grizzlies found themselves playing in their second consecutive championship game. The Grizzlies, who are led by 4 of the finest women in the Canadian program along with player coach Susie Grimes, were caught napping early and the determined hometown Timberwolves jumped out to a commanding 10 P 2 lead with only 4 minutes gone in the half. Deb Sunderman led the early surge with 3 quick baskets and 1 assist. This early domination by the Timberwolves was soon challenged and the Grizzlies chiseled the lead to 14 P 11 at the ten minute mark in the half. The Timberwolves once again built a 18 P 11 lead and appeared ready to once again take control of the game. It was at this mark that the Grizzlies called for a time out and came out with a more intense pressing strategy which assisted them in scoring the next eight points to jump into a 19 P 18 lead with 37 seconds in the half. Prior to the end of the half Mary Jo Kittok added a free throw for the Timberwolves to tie the score at 19 and the Grizzlies missed two easy shots under their basket prior to the half-time buzzer and the teams went into halftime with a tie score. JJJJ With the score 19 P 19 it was evident that this was going to be another classic championship game for the WomenUs Division. The competition that followed in the ensuing 13 minutes was inspiring to watch. The two top teams continued to battle with intensity and determination with neither team clearly establishing a dominance. With 7 minutes left in the game the Grizzlies held a slight 30 P 29 lead. For the next 2 minutes points were once again shared and at a Timberwolve timeout with 5:30 left the score was 34 P 32. Once again the Grizzlies made a late half run that eventually turned out to be the controlling factor in the game. Led by the intense play of Lori Radke the Grizzlies managed to jump out to a 40 P 32 lead with 2 minutes left. The Timberwolves, however, were not ready to give the game to the Grizzlies and after a basket by player-coach Sunderman the lead was 40 P 34. Immediately following her basket Sunderman was whistled with her fifth foul during a pressing in-bounds defense and a inspired Timberwolve team was able to capitalize on the missed free throws with a 3 point basket by Josie Johnson (see picture below). This pulled them to within 3 points of the Grizzlies with 48.6 seconds left.  JJJ Immediately following the 3 point shot the Timberwolves fouled Grizzly Kendra Ohama who made the front end of two shots but missed the second to give the Grizzlies a 4 point lead. Radke who demonstrated a knack of attracting key rebounds at the end of a game was there to get the rebound off of the missed free throw. She was immediately fouled immediately and able to convert the second of her two free throws to build the lead to 42 P 37. The Timberwolves brought the ball down court off of the missed second free throw and scored on a basket by Linda Reil to once again pull within 3 with 32 seconds remaining in the game. On the inbound pass off of the made basket Radke was fouled and she went to the line and converted the first of her two shots. After missing the second shot she once again hunted down the missed shot and was fouled. With 9 seconds left Radke made the first of two to put the Grizzlies ahead 44 P 39. The Timberwolves were able to bring the ball down court for one last shot, however, another 3 point shot by Johnson bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded to announce the Grizzlies as the 1998 NWWBT Champions. Ohama led the Grizzlies with 14 clutch points. She was followed by Radke with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Elsworth and Abbott also added 8 and 6 points to the Grizzly victory. The Timberwolves were led by Sunderman with 12 points, Johnson with 9 and Susan Hagle with 8.
 *Thanks to the NWBA Newsletter for this article.*

The following women took home tournament honors -

             Most Valuable Player - Lori Radke (Western  Grizzlies)
             Sportsmanship Award - Ann Walters   (NorthEastern Storm)
             Most Improved Player - Teresa Brandenburg  (University of Illinois)

             All Tournament 1ST TEAM
             Susan Hagel (Minnesota Timberwolves)
             Lori Radke (Western Grizzlies)
             Kendra Ohama (Western Grizzlies)
             Christina Ripp (Minnesota Timberwolves)
             Marni Abbott (Western Grizzlies)
             Josie Johnson (Minnesota Timberwolves)

             All Tournament 2ND TEAM
             Deb Sunderman (Minnesota Timberwolves)
             Jamie Danskin (Casa Colina Shooting Stars)
             Tracey Ferguson (University of Illinois)
             Teresa Brandenburg (University of Illinois)
             Ruth Nunez (Casa Colina Shooting Stars)
             Pam Fontaine (Lady Texans)