The Eastern Mennonite women’s basketball team has found success this year, even with an especially young team. “Ever since I’ve been here we’ve been a young team,” explains junior Stephanie Reinheimer. The junior class is solid this year with three All-ODAC players (Bianca Ygarza, First Team; Kala Yoders, Second Team; Stephanie Reinheimer, Third Team). The junior class alone is responsible for nearly half of the team’s points.
Nevertheless, the underclassmen have certainly held their own. Sophomore Shakeerah Sykes and first-year Jess Reinheimer have both made an impact by tallying over 100 points this season. Jess appreciates the presence of the upperclassmen, saying, “a highlight is being able to play college basketball with girls who really know what they’re doing. They run plays correctly and they do what they need to do.” The team’s biggest struggle has been “playing for a full 40 minutes,” according to Alisa Brown, sophomore. “We have gotten better with that during the last few games,” Jess noted.
Coach Kevin Griffin sees that even when they’re struggling, the team has kept working and stuck together even in the most frustrating moments. The bar was set high last year with the team posting 22 wins, but this year’s team is confident in the work they’re doing. “We’re playing better teams,” Stephanie explains, “I guess we’re better [than last year], but if you look at our record you wouldn’t think we were.”
Coach Kevin Griffin is proud of this team for playing together better as a squad. Even while playing against tougher competition, the team has been able to find success in the ODAC as the Lady Royals defeated Guilford who had been voted first in the ODAC preseason polls. Stephanie Reinheimer, junior, found one of the highlights of the season to be their victory over nationally ranked Mary Washington. The win came with a layup from junior Bianca Ygarza in the last second of the game to snag the win by two points.
With a victory over Lynchburg this Saturday, the women’s basketball team has secured a four game winning streak in the conference. The game started out close, with Lynchburg getting on the board in less than a minute. Kala Yoders was quick to reply with some points of her own. Within five minutes, Eastern Mennonite gained control of the game to reach a 16 point lead with four minutes left in the half. In the second half, the team held strong defensively to come out victorious with a 68-53 win over Lynchburg and a tie for first place in the ODAC with Bridgewater and Guilford.
The women next host Virginia Wesleyan at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 19.
-Bethany Hench, Sports Co-Editor