Women’s Basketball Season Comes to a Close

Brittany Wells, Managing Editor

Ironically enough, as the March Madness basketball tournament enters, the Kentucky Wesleyans Women’s basketball season exits. It was a hard fought season, but unfortunately the women’s basketball team lost in the second round of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference Tournament to the 2015 defending tournament champions Cedarville University, leaving the Lady Panthers without an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II tournament. The Panthers will be losing four seniors, including guard Jade Mills Harris, guard Jillian Jones, guard Katie Miller, and center Ciera Woods. The Lady Panthers are hoping to bring back Jillian Jones for the 2016-2017 season as the team waits to hear back from the NCAA regarding her athletic eligibility. Jones is a 5-7 guard from Owensboro, KY who went to Daviess County High School. She played in 27 games this year averaging 20.9 minutes, 6.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game, and shot 39% from the field, 27% from the three point line and 77% from the free throw line.

Early in the season, the Lady Panthers were ranked third in the pre-season poll. Cedarville University was ranked second and Ursuline College first overall. Those rankings were seen as valid to the naked eye by the end of the season. Ursuline College ended up first in the Greater Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC), winning the conference tournament while playing against Cedarville University ,who finished second in the GMAC. The Lady Panthers went down with a fight and did not let those rankings define them. The Lady Panthers had won at least one game against every team in the conference including #1 Ursuline and #2 Cedarville.

This just goes to show that it comes down to the little things for the Lady Panthers and that anything is possible and that you just have to believe in yourself and one another. Jennifer Walker-Crawford, a 5-11 forward from Warsaw, IN would describe the season in one word as “motivating.” Her explanation entailed, “It was motivating because we played some very tough teams and at times we showed how tough and skilled we can be and it’s encouraging that we have such a large group returning next year.” Jennifer Walker-Crawford is a junior accounting major and hopes one day to be a certified public accountant.

The returners for the 2016-2017 season include: guard Shayla Wright, guard/forward Addie Reimbold, forward Jennifer Walker-Crawford, forward Bria Wright, guard Erin Dorn, guard Asia Coates, guard Sydney Morabito, forward Codie Drake, and guard Brittany Wells. With that being said, this will leave the Kentucky Wesleyan Women’s Basketball Team with six seniors, two juniors, one sophomore and ideally a large incoming highly skilled freshman class.

This will be the sixth season for the husband and wife tandem of Caleb and Nicole Nieman as co-head coaches for Kentucky Wesleyan College. Since Caleb and Nicole have been the coaches the team made its first NCAA appearances in KWC history (2011 and 2013), won its first GMAC Championship (2014), produced the first three consecutive 20 win seasons (2013, 2014, 2015), won the first Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) East Division Championship in KWC history (2013) and the first league tournament championship games (2012, 2014, 2015) in KWC history. The Nieman’s also hold the best winning percentage in KWC history at 66 percent, have reached the highest NCAA region ranking in history at number five (2013), set a KWC record for GLVC wins with 14 (2013), set a KWC record for GMAC wins with 13 (2015), set the single game record for points with 115 in an overtime win at Bellarmine (2012). This year might have ended a couple games earlier than expected for the Panthers, but next year will be a year of hard work and dedication that everyone expects will pay off for the Lady Panthers.