Women’s basketball takes 3rd in NWC

Sarah Debs

After a season of continous improvement, Whitman’s women’s basketball team fought hard through their final game against Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. last Thurs., Feb. 23. While the game seemed to lean in Whitman’s favor as the team racked up points on the floor, Lewis & Clark scored 12 free throws that finished the game at 69-64. This tough playoff loss ended the Whitman women’s season. Lewis & Clark went on to take second to nationally ranked George Fox, who earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III national championship field.

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Whitman’s game against Lewis & Clark marked the end of the college careers for seniors Jenele Peterson, Jennifer Keyes and Anna Forge. First-year Katie Gray hopes to continue what these graduating women brought to the team in upcoming seasons.

“Honestly, our seniors are great. They led the team really well and inspired a lot of the underclassmen to work hard. They are welcoming, open, genuine people, we’re going to miss them a lot,” said Gray.

The Northwest Conference is particularly competitive with  Lewis & Clark, ranked 7th in the nation, and George Fox, ranked 3rd. Whitman, ranked 24th DIII in the country, finished with a strong Conference record of 12-4.

Peterson, who scored a career best of 34 points during the game, was not quite ready to see the season end.

“Losing to Lewis & Clark was not the conclusion we were hoping for because our goal for the season was to make the NCAA national tournament. We were hoping to beat Lewis & Clark, a regionally ranked and nationally ranked team, in order to possibly obtain an at-large bid,” said Peterson.

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Even with an uncharacteristically slow first half of the playoff game, Whitman pushed forward and played with utmost determination, narrowing Lewis & Clark’s lead to just five points by the end. The second half of the game is when Head Coach Michelle Ferenz saw the game start to heat up.

“We just didn’t play as well offensively as we needed to in the first half,” said Coach Ferenz. “But we came back and played well offensively in the second. Lewis & Clark is big and physical and that is a tough match up for us. We struggled to keep them off the boards. It is something we will have to improve on for next season.”

Junior Mary Madden, who made two free throws in the final game, believes that such a strong comeback demonstrates the perseverance of the team as a whole.

“We played really well as a unit,” said Madden, “Sure, individuals played well, but what really stuck out about this game and this season was everybody’s willingness to do anything to win, even if that meant not scoring individually. We all played hard for each other. The seniors really instilled that in us this year, and I hope to continue that next season.” +