From bittersweet to heartbreak

Women’s basketball falls short in turnaround season

By Cameron Gwinn, Staff Writer

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Late in the season, the Lady Ocelots excelled by playing defense and Sophomore player, Jade Smith, was a big contributer to the team. (Photo by Atticus Laird, Photo Editor)

The Schoolcraft women’s basketball season came to an abrupt end on March 10 in the semi-finals of the National Junior Community College Athletic Association District H Tournament against Delta College. Unfortunately for this team it ended too quickly.

The start of the 2016-17 season was a bitter one for the Ocelots, having a record of 1-13 in their first 10 games set the team into a deficit during the first two months of the season. However, the Ocelots were able to turn their season around quickly when conference play started in January.

The Ocelots solidified their game and competed in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) Eastern Conference rising in the standings. Schoolcraft concluded their season with a record of 11-3 in MCCAA play, good for a second place tie with Delta College in the standings.

“The season was slow and rocky to begin,” said sophomore guard Rainey McCune. “But we picked it up tremendously in conference play.”

Semi-final heartbreak
After beating Alpena (March 7) 71-45 in the quarterfinal opening round of the NJCAA District H Tournament, the Ocelots faced Delta College (March 10). Both teams matched up perfectly. This game showed how close these teams were all season and came down to overtime to produce a winner. Unfortunately for the Ocelots, the Pioneers came out on top and the Ocelots lost 50-58 in the OT heartbreaker.

At the half, Delta had a 24-23 lead and held that lead through the third quarter. Going into the fourth quarter Delta had the lead 37-36, but the Ocelots never quit fighting forcing the game into overtime. Unfortunately, due to injuries Schoolcraft had a short bench only having three subs for the game. Delta wore out Schoolcraft through the game leading up to overtime.

In overtime Delta made the last push, scoring 11 points and held Schoolcraft to only 5. With a final score of 58-52, Delta moved on to the semi-finals in the NJCAA District H Women’s Tournament, but Schoolcraft’s head coach Kara Kinzer was happy about how her freshman played this season.

“We had a lot of freshmen playing big roles,” Coach Kinzer said. “It took the first part of the season for them to find their role.”

Moving forward
The Ocelots started playing solid basketball when the team found their game. The team turned their season around after starting the season 1-13 through December and went 11-3 to conclude the regular season. This is something big that the team can build on. One freshmen that made a big impact this year that will be someone to look for next year is guard Victoria Robinson.

Robinson was a commanding offensive player who was able to pick up the pace when sophomore guard Rainey McCune got hurt. Robinson was a major scoring threat on offense and did her job on defense leading the team in steals and scoring.

Some sophomores that shined this season and will be missed next year are guard Rainey McCune and forward Jade Smith. McCune ran Schoolcraft’s offense game after game and Smith commanded the paint making it hard for opponents to get easy baskets on defense.
Robinson has confidence in the squad next year. “I plan to go all the way next year” said Robinson.

This team has growing to do for next season, but have a very bright future ahead. With 6 of their 10 roster players being freshmen you can expect to see a lot of the same faces with some new talent that the coaching staff is going to be bringing in.

The Ocelots late season heroism was enough to get MCCAA awards. Sophomores Rainey McCune, Jade Smith and freshman Victoria Robinson were recipients.

Jade Smith was picked to be an All-Region XII Team First Team along with All-MCCAA and All-Eastern Conference First Team. Smith was the only player on the Ocelots to be selected on the Eastern Conference All-Defensive Team.

A leader for the Ocelot team, Rainey McCune, was given the All-Eastern Conference Second Team despite being injured in parts of the season.

Victoria Robinson received the most awards being a part of the All-Region XII Team First Team and All-MCCAA also All-Eastern Conference First Team with Smith. Robinson was also selected to be on the Eastern Conference All-Freshmen Team and the NJCAA District H All-Tournament Team.

For more information on team schedules, stats and rosters go to www.mccaa.org.