After graduating 13 players from its program last year, G.W. Graham's senior boys basketball team isn't starting from scratch this year-almost, but not quite.
"Rebuilding is my key word for the season," said coach Jake Mouritzen. "We're coming in as a young team."
With only one returning starter-Grade 12 power forward Cody Wallis-Mouritzen has had to adjust his expectations (last year it was to take the AA provincial title, and his team fell short by just one game) and his game plan.
Known for pushing the ball up court and sniping points from the outside, the Grizzlies have taken a different tack this season, relying more on big post players like six-foot-five Wallis, six-foot-two Grade 11 Jake Creasey and youngster Diego Pineda, who's six-foot-four and 210 pounds and only in Grade 10.
"We're still pushing the ball hard," Mouritzen said. "We're still playing hard, high-tempo defence, but rather than looking at an outside offensive attack from the three-point line, we're really working hard to push the ball inside to our post guys-because we've got three big post guys."
Other key players this season will be starting Grade 11 point guard Ryan Kaplanis, and versatile Grade 11 swingman Jesse McDuff.
It's a young squad, but they're working hard, Mou-ritzen said, and he isn't ruling out a fourth consecutive provincial championship appearance in March.
"A lofty goal, but we think we can sneak in," he said.
Grizzlies fans will get their first look at the team this weekend at the Graham Grizzlies AA Showcase Invitational Thursday to Saturday, featuring a 12-team boys tournament and an eight-team girls tournament.
"We have 20 of the best AA teams in the province coming to this weekend," Mourit-zen said.
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