MHS' Willems inks basketball letter with Tabor

By Steve Sell
January 28, 2014
Shane Backhus

McPherson High senior Hannah Willems is finally healthy and happy.

Willems, whose MHS athletic career has been star-crossed because of a number of injuries, has experienced a pain-free basketball season and is a vital cog in the Bullpups’ success as they prepare for the Mid America Classic.

Willems is finally showing what she can do, as her ballhandling and outside shooting are important aspects for the Bullpups. It’s also drawn the attention of Tabor College, as Monday she signed a letter of intent to play for the Bluejays next season.

“The school is really friendly,” said Willems, who has been a 3-point specialist for the Bullpups in addition to assuming much of the ballhandling duties. “There was never anyone who didn’t welcome me, and (Tabor) coach (Shawn) Reed and all of the assistant coaches, too, were really welcoming and just made me feel like it would be a good place to start the next chapter of my life.”

Willems also has run cross country and played soccer for the Bullpups, but it’s all about basketball now at the college level.

“I want my ballhandling to get better still,” she said. “My shot, I want to be more consistent and get quicker.”

Willems, who is probably going to major in athletic training, will be joining teammate Abby Pedersen, who also has signed with the Bluejays.

“It would be weird if we didn’t go to the same school,” she said. “It’s going to be great to play with her.”

MHS coach Chris Strathman, a Tabor grad himself, was pleased for Willems, whose hard work and persistence have paid off.

“She’s done a real good job for us,” Strathman said. “Taking care of the ball and getting us into the offense. She’s come a long ways in those areas. Defensively, she’s improved a lot, too. So I think her better basketball is ahead of her still. And she can shoot. Anytime you can provide that element to a team... you have a chance to help somebody out and I think she can do that at Tabor.”

Reed is excited to be adding players from a quality program like MHS.

“Obviously Hannah is a very solid player. We think she can play some 1 (point guard) some 2 (shooting guard),” Reed said. “Good athlete, heady player. Just really steady.”

Willems is the daughter of Jenny and Ron Willems.