Lots of ups and down for Mac women cagers

By Steve Sell
February 19, 2016

What a roller-coaster ride it has been for McPherson College’s women’s basketball team.

The Bulldogs, 4-26 last season, are 12-17 after a last-second 53-52 loss Thursday to Sterling in a game that has typified their season.

The Bulldogs are 9-10 in the KCAC. Because of the parity that exists in the conference once you get past Tabor and Friends, the Bulldogs could still finish as high as fourth place or perhaps miss the playoffs all together, from all indications.

The Bulldogs of third-year coach Gordon Reimer have now lost three games in the final 2 seconds. They were beaten on a near-halfcourt shot by Ottawa, lost on a basket with 2 seconds left against Friends and then last night Sterling scored with 1.5 seconds left after Mac let a five-point lead get away. To boot, they have lost overtime games to Hillsdale Baptist and Kansas Wesleyan, the KW game actually going double-overtime.

On the flip side, the Bulldogs edged Southwestern on a last-second shot by Ashton Bruner and have won six other games by five points or less. They also played Tabor as tough as anybody before the Bluejays finally lost last night to Southwestern, spoiling their chance at a 20-0 conference season.

The Bulldogs have an interesting mix of players. Reimer has a whopping seven seniors, but three freshmen have played integral roles. There’s somewhat of a void of juniors and sophomores and Reimer knows he’s going to have to bring in a huge recruiting class next year since he loses so many players.

Bruner and fellow senior Bailey Brown have really powered this team. Bruner may be the KCAC’s most athletic player and Brown its most cerebral. It’s a shame that when the KCAC coaches gather to pick the All-Conference Team that one of them will probably be left off the first team because of Mac’s record. There’s no question they’re two of the best 10 players in the conference. However, for whatever reason, teams that are middle of the road in the standings just don’t get more than one first-team pick, like it’s an unwritten rule.

The Bulldogs have headed into this final week of the season without starters Reagan McClellan and Brooke Racette, as they suffered torn ACLs within five days of each other. McClellan scored very little, but did a nice job running the team at the point and caused a lot of havoc on the defensive end. Racette had come light-years since the start of the season and had been a pleasant surprise when she finally moved into the lineup. Reimer really needs both players to make a 100 percent recovery since they’re locks to start next year.

Amanda Allen and Kristina Battle also are part of a fine freshman class. The fiery Allen has a nice touch for a post player and her long arms allow her to defend well. Battle is extremely athletic and should be a fixture in the lineup for the next three years. She knocked down three huge 3-pointers against Sterling, but also has the quickness to create off the bounce.

Hopefully Mac can win on Saturday against Saint Mary to take all doubt away about making the playoffs. It has incurred a lot of ups and down this year, but owns two wins apiece against the Nos. 3 and 4 teams in the KCAC, which shows it can play with the best. The big hope is that the Bulldogs defeat Saint Mary and then the tiebreakers fall so they can have a home playoff game next week.