Kenyon women’s basketball looks to improve on a successful 2016-2017 season, when they went 19-8 and, for the second straight season, saw themselves in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) semi-finals.
The Ladies graduated five seniors last year, including leading scorer Bailey Dominguez ’17, who averaged 9.7 points per game. But the team is not worried about the upcoming season.
“Three senior starters graduated, but we also had a ten-player rotation, and the bulk of players who played in games are returning this year,” Head Coach Suzanne Helfant said. This is Helfant’s 23rd season at the helm of Ladies basketball. “We also have a number of first years who will all contribute to the team this season. Ellie Shaub [’21], for example, will make an immediate impact.”
Of the returning players, Paige Matijasich ’20 and Jessica Gerber ’19 look to run the Ladies’ back court. Both had impressive seasons last year: Matijasich averaged 6.7 points and four rebounds per game while shooting 35 percent from beyond the arch. Gerber averaged 7.3 points per game. The Ladies will also look toward Griffin Tullis ’18 for experience. She is the team leader in rebounds, with an averaging 6.1 per game and holds a strong 36 percent shooting percentage from three-point range.
Despite the offensive assets the Ladies have, Helfant will continue to prioritize defense. “[Defense] levels the playing field,” Helfant said. “If we play great defense, we will always have the chance to be successful and will be in every game that we play.”
This defense-first strategy has proven successful for the experienced head coach, who touts a 355-225 (60%) record at Kenyon and whose defense ranked second in scoring defense and first in field goal percentage in the NCAC. The Ladies’ defensive stats ranked in the top 20 for both categories among all National Collegiate Athletic Conference (NCAA) teams.
The Lords basketball team hopes to have a successful campaign after a disappointing 2016-17 season that culminated with a 5-21 overall record and 4-14 record in North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) play.
After losing just two seniors, any improvement will have to come from returning players. Among those returning, the Lords have five seniors this year that all played significant minutes last season.
The 6’4” guard Bennett Grigull ’18 will begin his senior season after earning a spot on the All-NCAC honorable mention team while averaging 12.4 points per game and 4.8 rebounds per game last year. He will be joined in the backcourt by fellow senior Alex Powell in a few weeks when the guard returns from knee surgery.
Center Alex Laub ’18 will look to anchor the paint on both sides of the ball with his 6’9” frame. Phillip Crampton ’18, who shot over 41 percent from three point range, brings shooting to a big man slot, which will stretch the floor and open the defense for the team’s guards. Forward Will Sigl’s ’18 offensive and defensive versatility will also be an asset for the team in 2017-18.
“We have an incredible group of seniors, and to have five seniors in Division III basketball is rare and is a testament to their dedication,” Head Coach Dan Priest said.
Priest begins his eighth season as the Lords’ head coach with high hopes, “our expectation is to be competitive with every team we play and have the mentality that we can win every game on our schedule,” he said.
The team’s season will continue this upcoming weekend at home, when they play Albion College on Friday afternoon and Trine University on Saturday.