Tripped in Tourney: WolfPack women struggle in second half of loss
Sometimes energy and hustle are not enough to overcome adversity. Despite missing their leading scorer, the Women’s basketball team put on a valiant effort against Joliet Junior College but succumbed 64-48 in the semifinal round of the NJCAA Region IV tournament.
Joliet was led by guard Celestra Warren with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Guard Tanya Kaufmann did everything she could with 23 points and 9 rebounds for the WolfPack.
A large crowd turned out to view the battle of foes who split their season series. Joliet pressed right from the opening jump and seemed to throw Madison College a bit off guard. The WolfPack started to rush and get out of their regular game.
“ Yeah, we panicked. I don’t know why. It wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. I don’t know why we panicked. We seemed to be going at a very fast pace for no reason. I think that was part of our issue with missing layups and those things. We just threw it there instead of taking our time and getting things we want,” said Jessica Pelzel, WolfPack coach.
Things stared heating up halfway through the first half when bodies were on the floor and the tension was ramping. The referees seemed open to letting the teams play as multiple hits to the floor by both teams went without a whistle.
Rough shooting on either side contributed to a 24-23 Joliet lead at halftime. The second half started close but Joliet finally broke free with a Danasha Jenkins jumper with 8 minutes and 6 seconds left to put them up by 7. The WolfPack could never make it closer again.
“Defensively we did the things we wanted to do. Offensively we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket, shot 27 percent for the game, had 26 turnovers. I think those two things killed us. I think defensively we played well. Made them take some tough shots. And they made some tough shots. Sometimes that’s the way it falls,” Pelzel said.
Madison College guard Kinsey Mace was unavailable due to a leg injury. It is doubtful she would have been able to play in the national tournament had they been able to advance. She was on the bench in crutches supporting her team all afternoon.
“We lose 14 points a game. I think in a game like this it’s huge. It’s someone they have to guard every time she touches the ball. Putting other people in positions they haven’t been in necessarily all year could have been a thing too. Nerves obviously played a huge part of it,” Pelzel said.
Madison College finishes the season with a 17-10 record. They look to be strong again next year as they return multiple players including, Calli Dahl, Taylor Pfeuti, Erin Fradette, Courtney Spangler, Sakeenah Rashada, Gina Johnson and Paige Sieben.
The loss of the sophomores on the team will still be a great a loss. Pelzel seemed genuinely touched as she talked about her second years and the leadership they displayed. This was a bigger group of them then she is used to having and she felt they really gave it their all.
“I’m proud of them, and I like this group, and it made it a lot easier over the course of the year when we ran into bumps in the road because they liked each other,” Pelzel said.
“They got along, and listened when I coached and gave tips they listened. They take it to heart and I think that’s huge. On the other hand it’s hard to lose them and to be done because they’re people who I think deserve to be playing, play their hearts out every time and regardless most of them left it out on the floor.”