Season Preview: Women’s Basketball

Peter Clark

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If early season results are any indication of what the rest of the season has in store, then the Whitman women’s basketball team should have high expectations.

The women’s basketball team practiced on Nov. 27. Photos by Tanner Bowersox.

After winning six of their first seven games to start the year, the Missionaries have plenty to be optimistic about. The new team will look to have a more balanced scoring attack now that alumna Jenele Peterson ’12 has graduated and is playing professionally in Germany. While Mary Madden and Emilie Gilbert are the team’s only two seniors, head coach Michelle Ferenz is confident that the Missionaries’ youth can lead to a successful season.

“I thought our strength last year was our guard play, because our posts and our forwards were really young. This year I feel like the roles are reversed now, our first few games our forwards have stepped up and done a lot more scoring,” said Ferenz.

Ferenz was clear in saying that she expects her backcourt to quickly catch up with her forwards as the season progresses. Sophomore transfer Heather Johns will take over the primary point guard duties while seasoned junior Tiffani Traver will look to continue her solid wing play from last year.

Traver believes that the strength of this year’s squad will show through in the amount of offensive weapons that they have.

“We are a lot more diverse this year. We have so many different people who can do different things with the ball, which should make us more balanced,” said Traver.

The Missionaries boast a flurry of forwards who should help boost the Missionaries scoring and rebounding. Senior Mary Madden will lead the charge along with juniors Sarah Anderegg, Meghan White and sophomore Heather Lovelace. The depth in the frontcourt should make Ferenz’s life easier in dealing with foul trouble and potential match-up problems.

With a stable full of forwards and a growing group of capable guards, the Missionaries are setting their sights on a Northwest Conference championship. In the early going this season, Anderegg leads Whitman with an average of 14.3 points per game while White and Lovelace chip in 9.0 points. Johns bolsters point production for the guards with an average of 9.7 points per game.

Madden says that things may be aligning just right for the Missionaries to finally break through and capture the conference title.

“Winning the conference is definitely doable. Our league lost a lot of good players last year, so even though we did lose Jenele, a lot of other teams are hurting too,” said Madden.

To win the conference, the Missionaries will likely have to outlast perennial powers George Fox University and Lewis & Clark College. Both George Fox and Lewis & Clark have finished first and second overall in the NWC the past two years, so a Whitman championship will become more realistic if the Missionaries have success against the two Oregon schools.

The new and improved Missionaries will look to count on an influx of new contributors combined with a successful tradition to continue their winning ways. Judging by the fourth-place finish two years ago and a third-place finish last year, the trend indicates positive results for the 2012-2013 season.

The Missionaries face the University of Puget Sound this Friday at 6 p.m. Whitman also hosts its annual Kim Evanger Raney Classic this weekend at Sherwood Center and faces Corban College in tournament competition on Saturday at 4 p.m.

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