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Women’s basketball eyeing national stage

(Photo by Jac Rhine)

Senior Courtney Baker dribbles down the court against Mt. Vernon Nazarene University Jan. 31. Baker leads the Crossroads League in assists, averaging 4.67 a game. (Photo by Jac Rhine)

Coach Lori Culler’s squad knows how to send its two seniors out of the regular season in style – straight into the post-season tournament.

Defeating Taylor University Feb. 21, seniors Courtney Baker and Amelia Echemann helped lead their team to a final record of 11-7 in the Crossroads League and 20-8 overall record.

This will earn the #22 Foresters a home advantage as the fourth seed in the conference tourney. HU will host 5th seed Goshen College in Platt Arena Feb. 24.

Heralding her team to its fourth seed, sophomore Miranda Palmer had 21 points in the night’s contest along with junior Kelsey Hubble dishing up 16 of her own points. Baker lead her team with three assists while junior Jaclene Bonnema provided nine rebounds.

The team continues to look towards the ever-present future– Sioux City, Iowa – and the looming temptation of reclaiming its place to compete on the national stage.

“I think since last year we’ve just had this goal of getting back to nationals,” Palmer said. “And we’ve sort of got a taste for it. We’re all talking about doing it again – another round farther. So I really think that and doing well in our conference are two of the goals we’ve had all year.”

Players say their team’s success is due in part to their unique chemistry that stresses coaches and players working together.

“I would say our team chemistry has definitely been a big factor this season,” Palmer said. “We get along really well, and we’re focused on a main goal – winning, getting back to nationals, doing certain things every game.”

Palmer said that Culler plays a big role in keeping the team in the right mentality, preparing her ladies and getting them into the correct mindset before every game.

Junior Amelia Recker said that her team is aware of the task ahead of them, focusing on taking one game at a time.

“It can get kind of easy to look ahead and skip past some teams that you think may be easy,” Recker said. “Right now we are just taking it one game at a time [while] fighting to hopefully have a good post season in the league tournament.”

Baker believes that if her team continues to play the way they have been, they have a good shot at making a return trip.

“We just can’t let down anytime soon,” Baker said. “It’s fun going out there with the girls, spending time together, playing basketball of course. It’s just an awesome atmosphere to get to see other teams and watch them play.”

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