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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Women’s basketball starts season on the right foot

The Grinnell College Women’s Basketball team is gearing up for their first tournament this season when they play in the Tip-Off Tournament this weekend at Darby Gym. The Pioneer’s first game is versus Buena Vista University at 7 p.m. on Friday and then against Martin Luther College at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“Buena Vista is a solid team that is competitive in the Iowa Conference, they have a pre-season All-American on the team. They will be well coached and tough to beat,” said Head Coach Kate Gluckman. “Martin Luther has some height in their roster and some solid returning players.”
Given the tough competition, Liz Burnett ’13 says that Pioneers’ goal this weekend is controlling the fundamentals.
“We’re really hoping to accomplish getting the small things down, like boxing out and rebounding and setting screens,” Burnett said.  “We think by doing the little things we can come out with a win.”
The key to controlling these “little things” will depend on the pace of the game.  The Pioneers want to play methodically building from the back and controlling the ball and this style will be tested this weekend.
“The teams that we’re playing all have high-pressure defense so we’ll definitely have to calm things down and take it to our speed of the game,” Burnett said.
But the Pioneers will have a big advantage this weekend in their home court in front of a supportive crowd and sleeping in their own beds.
“I am really excited to play at home this weekend because it is always easier to play at home…in your gym,” Team Captain Jessica Shotts ’10 said. “We know how the hoops feel and the baskets tend to be friendlier.”
Due to Martin Luther’s draining schedule preceding their game against Grinnell, the Pioneers expect to have a physical advantage.
“I looked at Martin Luther’s schedule and they are playing three straight games this weekend [Thursday, Friday and Saturday],” Shotts said. “We’re lucky because we face them the last day which means fatigue might set in for them during our game.”
The team showed some of their potential early this year after a comeback win on the road against Cornell College last Sunday.
“The best part about Sunday’s win was that we came back after being down by seven at halftime to win,” Shotts said. “We had a pretty rough first half but the second half we were a completely different team to watch.”
As the second half began, the Pioneers went on a 12-2 run to take the lead.  Cornell tried to keep pace with the more efficient Grinnell, but by the two-minute mark it was Grinnell that held the seven-point lead.  The final score was 58-66, Grinnell victorious.
“I felt like we played with a sense of confidence and composure, especially when the game was close,” Gluckman said.
The success in the first game would have not been possible if it weren’t for some very big performances by veteran and new players. Shotts led the scoring with 17 points, and Michelle Briggs ’13 lead the team with 15 rebounds and four blocks, while Jessica Vaverka ’11, coming off the bench, scored 10 points with 100 percent shooting.
But as the first half demonstrates, the team is not without their weaknesses. In the first half, Grinnell shot 26.9 percent from the field and made only one three-pointer.  But the biggest concern for the Pioneers was their willingness to give up the ball.
“We had 26 turnovers in our first game. We need to take care of the ball better, make smarter decisions and harder passes,” Gluckman said.
However, after a week’s worth of practice and the home court advantage, the Pioneers are confident heading into this weekend.
“We got the first game jitters out now so I think that we will have a great weekend and can definitely come out 3-0 after this weekend,” Shotts said.
— Additional Reporting by Lily Camp

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