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The Scarlet & Black

Basketball picks up key wins in Conference hunt

James+Page+%E2%80%9917%2C+Tague+Zachary+%E2%80%9915+and+Gus+King+%E2%80%9918+practicing.+%0APhoto+by+Misha+Gelnarova%0A
James Page ’17, Tague Zachary ’15 and Gus King ’18 practicing. Photo by Misha Gelnarova

With roughly three weeks remaining in the college basketball season, discussion of who will come out strong in this season’s Conference games has swirled in courts across the Midwest. But this season, Grinnell’s women’s and men’s basketball teams are continuously showing their ambition. And this week was no exception. The Pioneers confirmed their persistent attitude that would only elevate the excitement for the last few games leading into the Conference tournaments.

James Page ’17, Tague Zachary ’15 and Gus King ’18 practicing.  Photo by Misha Gelnarova
James Page ’17, Tague Zachary ’15 and Gus King ’18 practicing.
Photo by Misha Gelnarova

This past Saturday, both basketball teams came out with strong victories against Ripon College, marking the play as one of the most important wins of the program’s history. The women’s 53-49 win came after a devastating loss against Illinois College just four days earlier, and the key this time was focusing on the details.

“We talk about doing ‘the little things’ a lot,” Head Women’s Coach Dana Harrold wrote in an email to The S&B. “Boxing out, diving on loose balls, etc., and I thought we did a great job of all of these Saturday. The women’s victory was a crucial component to their season because it exemplified the team’s hard-working attitude.”

The win against Ripon was equally if not more rewarding for the men’s team because the game was not only a promising triumph over a big Conference opponent with a score of 117-108 but was also the first sweep at Ripon College since the 2008-09 season.

And the team owes that to its extensive focus on the road.

“So far this season we have been pretty awful on the road,” said Jack Taylor ’15. “Our focus and energy hasn’t been the same on the road as it is at home, which is characteristic of a young team like ours is. We realize that to become a championship team we need to be able to focus mentally and exert ourselves physically on the road, which we were able to [do] at Ripon.”

And just four days later, the Pioneers showed their persistence once again in a game against Monmouth College. The men’s team ended Wednesday evening with a win of 108-82, this time versus a second-ranked opponent, to extend their winning streak to four games, the longest of the season.

“The Monmouth game was a combination of our playing very well at a time when Monmouth was flat,” Head Men’s Coach David Arseneault wrote in an email to The S&B. “The net result was a surprising lopsided win against a very good team.”

The women’s team, on the other hand, played an intense game with five minutes of overtime. The Pioneers trailed during the first half but scratched back up to speed with its Conference competitor during the second half, with an impressive score of 38-32 that left the Big Scot startled after it led the first half 35-29.

“My women are resilient,” Harrold wrote. “And they have a ‘fight until it’s over’ attitude, so we stayed positive and had some great defensive possessions followed by some big shots on offense.”

The Pioneers drove the play until the very end, with the game ultimately going into overtime after a remarkable free throw by Alissa Hirsh ’16 with :03 left, making it 67 all.

“Everyone was involved,” said Kayla Morrissey ’18. “When [Leah Greenberg ’17] hit a three, the entire bench was jumping up and down. It was awesome to come back to bring it to overtime.”

But despite the Pioneer’s tenacious attitude to the very end, Monmouth came back to take the lead, leaving the scoreboard blinking an unbelievable 76-85 loss. 

But with basketball being a short-term memory sport, both teams are looking ahead with higher expectations and full anticipation for subsequent wins for a successful season. With fierce Conference competitor games on the horizon, the Pioneers are ready to face their next opponent, Carroll College, tomorrow at home.

“We are ready to make some noise in the conference by beating teams that are ranked above us,” Morrissey said. “We are not satisfied or done yet. We are continuing to push ourselves and each other in practice.”

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