By Kyle Schroeder – 1851 Staff
It has been a tough two years for the women’s basketball team in terms of their record. The Lasers finished this season 5-20 after a 5-19 record the previous season. In the 2015-16 season, they went a respectable 12-14. The question that arises is: what caused this drop off? The answer is something every interscholastic and collegiate sports program deals with: the loss of key senior contributors.
The most noteworthy loss after the 2015-16 season was the program’s all-time leading scorer Katie Stopera. Averaging 18 points and eight rebounds per game her senior year, Stopera helped the Lasers’ productive offense. Another key senior was guard Deanna Barrett, averaging 12 points per game while shooting 40% from the field and 34% from three-point land in the 2015-16 season.
Stopera and Barrett were just two of the impactful seniors that graduated in past years. Four other seniors departed which left the team with a young and inexperienced roster. “Obviously Katie and Deanna scored a lot of points for us that year, but losing someone like Breanna Williams who had an exceptionally high basketball IQ and missed most of that year due to injury didn’t help us,” head coach Todd Montana said. “Whether it was those three, Sammy Long or Rebecca Costa, they have been around the college game for three years so when you lose those seniors it is going to be challenging to replace some of that.”
Looking at the Lasers’ record the past two years, one may think the program is in a bad spot. However, college sports, especially at the Division III level, are not just about records. It’s also about developing skills and a positive culture that can help a person moving forward in life.
“We always want more in the win column than the loss column, but this was the best chemistry we’ve had in the four years since I have been here,” said Montana. “These are things that take time and fortunately we had a great group this year that was more concerned about what they needed to do and picking each other up instead of worrying about their individual roles.”
This chemistry was revealed on the defense as the Lasers held their opponents to an average of 60 points per game, the lowest it has been in four years.
“I thought we did a decent job defensively this year as games that we rebounded well in we usually held people to fairly low field goal percentage. If you go back and look at the schedule we were undefeated when we scored 60 points,” Montana said. “We allowed ourselves to stay in games and when we made shots we had a good opportunity to win.”
One of the other positive pieces to the 2017 women’s basketball team was the development of the roster. “They have been good students, good citizens, and have improved dramatically as basketball players,” Montana said.
No one better represented this than Morgan Church.
During her freshman year, Church averaged only 1.9 points per game in 14.5 minutes per game. Now, her senior year, she jumped up to averaging 18.3 points per game in 35 minutes per game. Church’s minutes, scoring average, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage improved every year.
“Morgan had an incredible work ethic, but she also was great about identifying the areas of the game that needed the most work and built herself an offseason workout routine to address those areas,” Montana said.
The culture of working hard and improving every day has given coach Montana high hopes for the future of the program.
“A line a colleague said to me that the girls have embraced this year is this: ‘They don’t got to do something, they get to do something,’” Montana said.