By Kevin Pan and Ben Payner
The Ladies basketball season came to an end last Saturday, Feb. 23 against the number-one-ranked team in the nation, DePauw University, in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) championship game. After steamrolling Allegheny College the previous night 80-50, the Ladies could not muster the same scoring frenzy, losing to the Tigers 63-49.
Against Allegheny, the team shot 63.3 percent from the field, a new single-game record for the Ladies. Maureen Hirt 14 scored 24 points and Kayla Ernst 13 added another 19 points, which allowed her to surpass Kenyons previous single-season individual scoring record of 522 points. Against DePauw, however, the Ladies started slow and could not recover.
We could have started off stronger, Head Coach Suzanne Helfant said. In the first half, we struggled to score. I think we were a bit too hyped, a little too nervous. In the second half, we settled down and played better. I think we dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half.
I think we were a little nervous in the first half, and I dont think we allowed ourselves to play basketball, Autumn Anderson 14 said. We tried to control the game too much, instead of letting the game flow.
The Ladies still earned some individual honors: Hirt and Ernst both made the all-tournament team, and the NCAC named Ernst its Womens Basketball Player of the Year. Hirt was also named to the All-NCAC first team, and Katie Adlam 13 given an honorable mention. All of the Ladies have much to be proud of, according to Helfant.
Im really proud of the women in the program, Helfant said. I think we accomplished a lot. I think the Ladies worked really hard, and when you finish 20-8, its nothing to be ashamed of.
Anderson agreed and is already looking forward to next year. Our team was really close, which makes every valley worth it and every peak a great celebration, she said. Out of the eight games we lost, six of the teams are going to the NCAA tournament, so we played against tough competition and held our own.
Helfant is still reveling in this years accomplishments. Im just really happy about this season and about the women who performed, she said. It was a privilege to coach them.
The Lords strong season also came to an end Friday night in the semifinals of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) tournament against eventual tournament champion Ohio Wesleyan University. The Lords lost to Ohio Wesleyan 77-64.
The Lords entered halftime trailing the Battling Bishops 38-24, but Head Coach Dan Priest pushed all the right buttons during his halftime speech and the Lords started the second half on a 19-3 run. Jonathan Amador 15, scoring eight of his team-high 15 points, was Kenyons key contributer during the run. At the end of the run, Ikenna Nwadibia 14 hit a spinning layup to put the Lords up 43-42 with 13:34 to go. By the end of the game, though, Ohio Wesleyan had a 16-5 run of its own, and too little time remained for the Lords to mount another comeback.
The Lords finished the year 16-11. That win column is the Lords best since 2008-2009. The 08-09 squad was also the last to advance to the semifinals of the NCAC tournament.
Individual Lords also earned honors for their performances. The NCAC named Lebowitz and Nwadibia as first-team All-Conference and Priest won the Coach of the Year award for the first time in his three years at Kenyon.
After surprising the league and finishing with the three-seed, the Lords will be expected to compete for a top-three finish again next year, as the team has no seniors and all its players are returning. Were excited to play with the same group of guys we did this year, Nwadibia said. I know that every member of the team is as excited to play with and for each other as I am. Next year will come before we know it, so as a team we are striving to improve on and off the court and be ready to achieve new goals in the 2013-2014 season.
For the season, Nwadibia, (16.5 ppg), Brian Lebowitz 14 (11.3 ppg) and Julian Pavlin 14 (10.7 ppg) all averaged double figures. Nwadibia also led the team with 9.4 rebounds per game.
Depending on the recruit situation, and the emergence of first-year and sophomore players, it is not unfathomable that the Lords will be preparing for a National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament game at this time next year, according to Pavlin.
The season didnt end as we hoped it would but this year we certainly made progress toward accomplishing our goals, Pavlin said. We have a lot of work to do, but with everyone returning for next season I am hopeful that we can pick up where we left off and take that next step.