Sunday, February 24, 2002

Wilmington having best season ever



By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Wilmington College women's basketball team may have exploded to a 13-1 start last season, but it's not a year coach Jerry Scheve will remember fondly. The Quakers lost eight of their next 11 games to finish 16-9.

        “From day one, I didn't want that to happen again this year,” Scheve said. "Injuries were probably the biggest thing, but overall team chemistry wasn't as good as it should have been. Everyone was disappointed.”

        Now, Scheve and company can't stop smiling as they continue their most successful season in school history.

        The Lady Quakers are 25-1 after defeating Baldwin-Wallace in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament Feb. 23 at Wilmington and securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament. Wilmington earned the OAC top seed by winning the conference regular season championship, their first since joining the league in 2000.

        Ranked first by the NCAA in the Division III Great Lakes region, Wilmington is third in the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) top 25 poll and fourth in the D3hoops poll. But none of the ratings can compare to the satisfaction of having a close-knit team, senior captain Sara Stark said. Stark, a three-year starter and Mercy High School graduate, said last year's lessons have been lasting. The Lady Quakers played in the NCAA tournament two years ago, and to get back, it's taken a full team effort.

        "I think we became so good because we don't have one oustanding star. It seems like someone different steps up every night, which is why I think it's difficult for scouts and teams to defend us," Stark said.

        The leading scorer is sophomore Tara Rausch (14 ppg), the top rebounder freshman Siobhan Zerilla (10.2 pg). On any given day, the honors go to any of the other 16 players.

        Megan Woodruff, a junior point guard from East Clinton High School, scored 26 points to propel Wilmington to a 80-62 Otterbein victory in the OAC semifinals Feb. 21. She typically scores 13 points per game.

        "We are much more team oriented this year because we get along off the court, too. I think that's a big reason for our success," she said. "You can see our confidence in the way we carry ourselves on the court."

        The Lady Quakers are scoring high in the classroom, too. Woodruff maintains a 4.0 GPA in her athletic training major, guiding the team to a potential fourth straight top 25 WBCA all-academic team standing. Scheve constantly encourages the players to improve on last year's 3.344 team GPA.

        "We get a mixture of students every year on the team, and they're not all go od. If there's any peer pressure, it's to do well in school. Even the ones who didn't do well in high school have done well here in college," Scheve said.

        Zerilla, a Mercy graduate like Stark and freshman Jen Wolf, said the Lady Quakers have extensive fan support in Wilmington, but outside the campus the team's reputation seems to diminish.

        "We get a decent crowd, mostly of students and players' parents. A lot of people don't know about us. I don't think people respect us as much as you'd think our record would show them," she said.

        The team draws largely from Cincinnati talent and merges fans from neighboring schools. Other Wilmington players include Jennifer Andrea (Lakota East), Brittney Morris (Bethel-Tate), Jamie Kautz (Blanchester) and Trisha Myers (Whiteoak).

        Scheve said seniors Stark, Katie Wolfe and MacKenzie Hammond are indicative of the program's success, winning a school-record 82 career games.

        The team, which relies on rebounding and control of up-tempo situations, this season lost only to Capital University, 63-53, Jan. 9. Wilmington avenged the defeat Feb. 6 in a 77-70 overtime thriller.

        The combination of chemistry and talent have given the Lady Quakers the most wins in a season in school history.

        "This has been the most focused team I've ever had," Scheve said. "Every day they come in and work, whether it's practice or a game. I never have to worry about how hard they play."

        ALSO:

        Piper Morgan (Milford) ended her volleyball career at the University of Cent ral Florida ranked 14th in NCAA Division I for her hitting percentage (.389). S he is the fourth player in school history to have more than 1,000 career kills.

        Stephanie Seibert (Mason) leads the University Athletic Association in scoring on the Emory University women's basketball team. Seibert has scored 20 or more points in the last seven games, with four double-doubles. Teammate Susan Lippert (Mason) is ranked third in NCAA Division III for free-throw percentage (.895).

        Christina Estrict, a 5-9 sophomore guard/forward on the Cincinnati State women's basketball team, was named player of the week in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference. Estrict is the OCCAC's leading scorer with 22.2 ppg.

        Mount St. Joseph's Virginia Grace (Colerain) was named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women's basketball player of the week after helping the Lions to two conference wins and averaging 14 points and 10.5 rebounds in the games.

        University of Cincinnati junior Brad Dorrmann (Colerain) was named the Conference USA Co-Hitter of the Week, hitting .600 with seven RBI and five runs scored the Bearcats' first three games.

        Debbie Merrill, a 6-3 forward on the University of Cincinnati women's basketball team, was named Conference USA Co-Player of the Week with Houston's Chandi Jones. Merrill averaged 16.5 points and 16 rebounds in wins over Marquette and DePaul, shooting 50 percent from the field and 62 percent from the free-throw line. Her 19 rebounds against DePaul was the 12th single-game total in school history.

        Northern Kentucky University's Michelle Cottrell (Boone County) was named to the Verizon Academic All-District IV second team for her academic and athletic achievements on the women's basketball team. Cottrell is NKU's all-time career leading scorer with 2,042 points, averaging 18.4 ppg.

        University of Dayton junior guard Chrissy Donovan (St. Ursula) was selected to the Verizon Academic All-District IV third team. Donovan averages 10.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals for the Flyers basketball team.

       



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