Young women’s basketball team ends ‘pretty good’ season

Alice MacLean

In the strong Northwest Conference, every night is a dogfight. The Whitman women’s basketball team came out battling from the very beginning, against their initial ranking as seventh place as much as against other teams. The strong but young squad proved they deserved recognition with their winning record and competition for the playoffs up until the very end.

“Overall, the season was pretty good. In the beginning, we weren’t ranked highly. We ended up beating the number one team and competing for third,” said first-year point guard Jenele Peterson. “But we can always improve.”

Peterson was one of seven players competing in their first year of college ball this season. The team’s youth was a big factor –– with only three seniors and no juniors, the underclassmen really had to pull their own weight.

“Our freshman and sophomores stepped up this year. Our seniors were key, but they can’t do it all by themselves,” said coach Michelle Ferenz, who is in her seventh season coaching at Whitman.

“We were really balanced. Different people really stepped up at different times. Our strength was our balance –– we were a hard team to guard,” said Ferenz.

The Missionaries certainly benefited from their three experienced seniors, guard Kristina Francis and forwards Emily Shubin and Kelsey Krumdieck. The three starters were not only valuable as players, but as leaders on and off the court to their younger teammates.

“We had really good team chemistry and got along really well with each other, which I think was really apparent both on and off the court. I would say that Janele and Michelle Krall stepped up a lot this season and played really well consistently. The majority of games, though, were really team efforts where many people contributed,” said senior forward Emily Shubin.

“We had some tough games. We lost a couple close games, games we shouldn’t have lost. Some of that is immaturity, learning that you have to be ready to step on the court to play every night. Given that it was such a young team, we did well. But there’s always room for improvement,” said Ferenz.

Prospects for the next few years look even more exciting. With no seniors, the team will be still be young but also have the opportunity to play together for two years without losing anyone.

“We’ll have a lot of time to play together and really take it to the next level,” said Peterson, who looks to start at point guard for the second year in a row.

“I’ve never had [the same group for two years] before,” said Ferenz. “It’s exciting, especially if we have a good recruiting year again, like this year.”

“We’ll need to fill the holes of Emily and Kelsey on the post. Also, a lot of it depends on how much we improve in the off-season,” she added. “When you’re a freshman or a sophomore, you can do a lot of good for yourself by getting in the weight room. It’ll be a key spring and summer for us in terms of improvement.”

Saying farewell to three important seniors, the core group of underclassmen is shooting for the top three with hard work and team effort in the off season.