Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman women have high hopes

Photos by Jacobson
Photos by Jacobson

Last year the women’s basketball season ended with a heartbreaking loss in the semi-finals of the Division III Northwest Conference Championship Tournament to the eventual tournament champions, George Fox University. This year, the Missionaries are determined to bring the conference title home to Walla Walla, and prove the slogan of their proposed new team t-shirts: “We’re on top!”

Winning the conference title is by no means an unattainable goal. In fact, they are sitting prettier than last year due to a deep roster with another year of experience under their slider shorts: every single player is returning from the 2009 season. With juniors Jenele Peterson and Rebecca Sexton and senior Hilary White having earned All Northwest Conference honors for the 2008-2009 season, and the addition of three promising first-years, Emily Gilbert, Mary Madden and Kelly Peterson, the Missionaries have high hopes.

White, voted one of six players to make All Northwest Conference First Team, undoubtedly had a colossal season last year averaging 13.6 points per game and leading the team to an 18-8 record. Currently, the team does not have a captain.

“If we did [have a captain], it would be [White],” said first-year guard Kelly Peterson.

White is satisfied about their chemistry thus far.

“All [the girls] know each other really well and the freshmen fit in really well too,” said White.

20091112-02-womensbb-webFirst-years Peterson and Madden  are both out of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif. and have made a smooth transition to Whitman. More importantly for Whitman basketball fans however, they have taken to the team like ducks to water. Peterson has really enjoyed her first weeks with the team.

“I love the girls and the coach; we hang out together, do homework together, go out to dinner,” said Peterson, who already runs the court like a true Missionary baller.  “We’re working hard and executing plays.”

Meanwhile White admits that the team struggles against George Fox.

“[We hope to] attack the basket with more dribble drive penetration,” said White. Combined with the addition of the new Missionaries, White hopes this will close out big games this year.

Having Sexton, one of the biggest centers in the league, can’t hurt either. Last season, Sexton beasted on the opposition, averaging 11.2 points per game, shooting a field goal percentage of 58 percent.

Head Coach Michelle Ferenz, starting her ninth season coaching here at Whitman and 19th overall, knows that to go all the way the team will have to work together to beat George Fox.

“Everybody’s important. We’re going to have to work together, and we know we can’t take nights off either,” said Ferenz.

Nonetheless Ferenz isn’t making too many guarantees at this point in time.

20091112-03-womensbb-web“The offensive execution still needs a little work,” she said. “They play really well together, are unselfish . . . don’t gamble on defense [and should be] a better rebounding team than last year.”

The team knows this season is not going to be easy. The Northwest Conference is set to be extremely competitive, with only two teams in the conference hit hard by graduation, George Fox not being one of them. Still, for Whitman basketball fans, this season has championship written all over it.

Ferenz hopes there are plenty of rowdy Whittie fans for the season opener versus Macalester on Friday, Nov. 20.

“[Don’t] go home for Thanksgiving; it’s boring at home, right?”

So, even if you do decide to go home for the holiday, keep the women’s Missionary basketball team in your hearts and dreams. But if you’re a truly devoted fan and you give up delicious turkey for some great basketball, be sure to fill Sherwood with the signature team chant, “Let’s go navy!”

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