Women’s basketball on brink of first winning season since 2006


New year, new team. The Pioneers entered this year with the mindset to win, and winning is what they have been doing.

Last year’s team finished 12-15, while this year’s team has already won more games than last year  at 13-11 (9-11 GLIAC) with two games left in the season.

“The team this year is on board,” said junior guard Sydnee Penn.  “Last year we were transitioning into coach Mishler’s system, and now we are on the same track as him.”

Sophomore guard Selana Reale elevates for a layup against Hillsdale University in a 75-60 victory Jan. 24. Reale scored nine points with four assists in that home victory. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

This offseason the Pioneers made major upgrades to the team, which has helped with their success this year.

“We brought in better players this offseason with Debbie and Logan transferring in, as well as the freshman class that has came in,” Penn said.

Along with the upgrades to this Pioneer squad, their family first mindset has also added to that improved win total.

“All families trust each other and I would say us trusting coach and each other is the main reason for our success,” Penn said.  “We all know our roles and we trust and believe we will get them done in the best way.”

Success comes in many ways and at any time.

“I think success breeds success,” said head women’s basketball coach Jason Mishler.  “When they see things are working, it builds their confidence.

“I think their ability to trust me is also a key to their success.”

Every team has leaders that are willing to go above and beyond for their teammates on and off the court.

“We look to all our kids as leaders.  Sarah Bardall and Selana Reale are two kids that kind of lead us in everyday work ethic, and pretty much everything the program is about,” Mishler said.

From the outside this team appears to be a highly motivated group.

“I think there is a lot of people that doubt this team and we all have a little fear at times, but that fear can be a good thing,” said Mishler. “I think we know exactly what we are capable of and that puts us on an edge to perform.”

If you were unaware, every athletic team in the Pioneers athletic department are unable to compete in in postseason play this year due to the transition into Division II’s GLIAC conference.

“My personal goal this year was to change a rule in GLIAC conference by being in position to qualify for postseason play,” Mishler said. “We also wanted to get better everyday and put ourselves in the position to make the tournament next year.”

“Our main goals this year were to be at least .500 and be in the top three of the south division,” said junior guard Deborah Simmers. “As far as next year, I feel our number one goal will be to make the tournament.”

Junior guard Deborah Simmers blows past the Hillsdale opponent in the aforementioned 75-60 win. Simmers has been a huge addition to the Pioneers as she has lead them all year in scoring by shooting 40% from the field. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Simmers, the leading scorer for the team at 13.1 points per game, is one of those key upgrades to this year’s team success as she has won GLIAC South Division Player of the week twice, Dec. 10 and Jan. 29.

“That will be our main focus and can be completed if we all work hard during the offseason, we are hoping to come back really strong and mature as a team,” Simmers said.

The Pioneers still have a few steps to take to be considered an elite team in the conference.

“In order to be elite, we will need someone on the court who can take control, right now all direction is coming from coach,” Simmers said.  “I think we need someone on the court who understands completely what Coach wants to achieve.”

The women’s basketball team will hit the court for the second to last time this year when they host the last home game of the year against Findlay University Feb. 23 at 3:00 p.m.

Justin Davis is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.



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