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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Women’s Basketball finishes with best record since 2003

By Joe Wlos

wlosjose@grinnell.edu

The Grinnell College women’s basketball team finished strong on Saturday, winning their final game against Lake Forest 59-53. It is only the second time that the Pioneers have defeated the Foresters, and it is Grinnell’s best season record since 2003.  They finished 11-7 in Midwest Conference play and 12-11 overall.

“I was extremely proud of how the women played,” said Head Coach Kate Gluckman. “I couldn’t have asked for more on that day.”

Isabelle Miller ’13 shoots during practice last week, while Meg Heuy ’12, one of three seniors, rebounds. Photograph by Avery Rowlison

The victory was especially sweet for the team’s fourth-years, Meg Huey and Ashley Jeannin. Saturday was their final game as Pioneer basketball players.

“This season has been three years in the process, because it’s really been spearheaded by our seniors, who have been with me the entire time,” Gluckman said. “They deserve the success we have had because of the work that they have done.”

The seniors saw quite the change over their four years.

“We barely won four games during our first year,” Huey said. “Our second year was the same, and last year we were actually in the games, but we weren’t used to winning. This is the first time we have gone in with a winning mentality.”

The week preceding the Lake Forest game was filled with tension. Despite a six-point loss to MacMurray on Feb. 13, Grinnell was on the playoff bubble. The Pioneers needed one more win, along with a loss for Carroll University, to secure a spot in the Midwest Conference Tournament.

“Monday was just a non-conference game,” Kelly Clarke ’13 said. “We played okay, but it was more a practice game for Lake Forest.”

That practice clearly paid off. The women performed spectacularly, changing their season-long strategy by breaking to the basket more often. However, the win wasn’t enough; Carroll University came out on top, ending the Pioneers’ playoff hopes.

“We controlled what we could control,” Gluckman said. “We couldn’t control Illinois College [beating] Carol, so I was sad, but not because we didn’t make the tournament; I was sad because my time and opportunity to work with the team was over.”

However, there was still some reason for celebration after the win.

“Lake Forest has become one of our rivals,” Tolu Alabi ’13 said. “The last time [we played them], we lost by three points, and some people on their team are pretty mean. We don’t like them. They talk on the courts too much.”

At the end of the night, Coach Gluckman was not as concerned about Grinnell’s opponent. She was far more focused on Huey and Jeannin.

“The most emotional moment of the season was in the locker room after the senior game,” Gluckman said, with both Huey and Jeannin agreeing. “Our seniors are very special student-athletes, and special people to me, personally. They have been so persistent in their dedication and their determination. They are one of the major reasons that we had the success that we did. They touched every element of our program in a positive way.”

Huey and Jeannin had standout seasons. Huey averaged ten points and eight rebounds per game, and Jeannin was responsible for several last second, game-winning shots. Michelle Briggs ’13 was also outstanding. In conference, she averaged a double-double, posting 10.4 rebounds and 11.0 points per game.

“This was our time to come into our own and be really confident in ourselves—in our personal game and in our leadership,” Jeannin said. “I’m really proud of what we did this year.”

Gluckman hopes to see similar success next season, as the large cohort of third-years replaces the departing starters.

“We have a lot of incoming seniors next year, which is great,” Jeannin said. “It’s not something we’ve had in the past. Almost every year, we’ve had only between one and three, but next year we will have six fourth-years, so I think it will be interesting to see who steps up.”

“On the court, there are some definite heir apparents,” Gluckman said. “Tolu Alabi and Michelle Briggs were in our starting lineup this year. Michelle can help fill Meg’s scoring underneath and rebounding and Tolu can help fill in for Ashley’s leadership at the perimeter.”

Even if the Pioneers can replace their talent, the women will still miss Huey and Jeannin, both on and off the court.

“I look up to my captains, Ashley and Meg,” Cristal Coleman ’15 said. “It’s going to be sad losing them next year, but every year someone new stands up, and that’s what I’m looking forward to seeing.”

“I really saw a development of leadership and unity that we haven’t had before at Grinnell,” Gluckman said. “Cristal Coleman is a first-year who really became the social heart of the team. She embraced the program.”

Gluckman believes that the team will be prepared to make another shot at the playoffs next year and she is confident that this season is just a taste of what the Pioneers can achieve.

“We’re hungry,” she said.

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