Grand Junction girls ready for league play

The word is “teamism.” It’s a variation of “Olympism,” used by Grand Junction High School girls basketball coach Sam Provenza to describe the all-encompassing team basketball experience.

The Tigers, 9-3 as they and the rest of the Southwestern League girls and boys teams enter league play, have developed this “teamism” despite having one freshman, nine sophomores and five seniors.

It should come in handy as the Tigers boys and girls open league play against Fruita Monument on Friday night.  The girls game is at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys at 7 p.m.

What is teamism? It’s a combination of competitiveness, skills, aesthetics and sportsmanship.

Provenza knows about “Olympism.”

A self-proclaimed Olympic enthusiast, Provenza said he carried an Olympic torch before the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games for a quarter-mile stretch on 28 1/2 Road between Patterson and Orchard Avenue.

“People would come up to you wanting to touch you,” Provenza said. “It was weird.”

But it was, no doubt, a double-dose of Olympism.

“It was,” he said, recalling one of his fondest memories.

Exhibit No. 1 of “teamism” was freshman Sydni Brandon sinking 6 of 10 3-pointers from about 26 feet Monday after practice.

Her shooting display in front of Provenza meant Brandon has the green light from beyond the 19-foot, 9-inch high school 3-point line.

“She only had to make four,” Provenza said. “Little creep.”

Exhibit No. 2 was senior guard Jamie Derrieux jogging out of the gym to a team dinner. Lasagna was calling.

“We’ve grown so much as a team it’s crazy,” said Derrieux, who is averaging 20.3 points per game. “We all come from different places: JV, a bunch of freshmen, middle school. So a lot of different backgrounds.”

Which has made “teamism” all the more important for the Tigers, who on Wednesday will look to avenge a December 47-46 loss to Moffat County when they host the Bulldogs at 5:30 p.m.

The Friday league openers — Central is at home against Montezuma-Cortez, with Durango in town Saturday — is the start of the real season, and right now, everybody is undefeated.

“I’m just excited to get league started,” Provenza said. “We tell our girls to enjoy this because league goes by so fast. I hate to see it go by so quickly.”

Especially when Grand Junction is coming together like the mesh nets Brandon was tickling after practice with her 3-point arrows.

“At this point, they know they can rely on each other as a group,” Provenza said. “Our teamism is just awesome.”


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