Expectations are high this year for Pioneer women’s basketball. Last year’s team clinched a playoff berth and finished in an impressive second in the GLIAC tournament. This year, they want more than just to play in the post season. In order for them to finish first, many factors must be addressed.
The squad seemingly came out of nowhere last season. Entering the season, nobody in the GLIAC expected the team to make the tournament. With hard work, dedication, and defense, however, the team was able to make the tournament.
“Last season was fun with the little bit of success that we had,” said senior forward Lindsy Snyder.
Snyder is a senior from Millersburg, OH. She worked her way to being one of Malone’s best rebounders last season.
“By the end of the year, we were all synced together and had a lot of confidence in each other,” Snyder said.
The confidence that the teammates had in each other turned into trust, which allowed them to play freely and not have to worry about each other.
“We trusted each other, and that was one reason we did what we did,” Snyder said.
Tasting success motivates a returning player to want more and to work harder to achieve it.
“Going into the offseason, it made me put in the time every day because I knew there was more I could give,” Snyder said. “I tried to do everything possible so that when next season came, I was ready.”
The offseason/preseason is a time to get better. It’s a time to learn for the newcomers and an even better time to bond and create the chemistry needed among all players.
“I think the preseason went well,” said senior guard Selana Reale. “The new kids had a lot coming at them, but they handled it [well].”
Reale said everyone worked extremely hard during the pre-season and that it should transition into the season and hopefully lead them to a national championship.
“Everyone got stronger, and I think the expectation of intensity was set from the get-go,” Reale said.
“For us this year is going to be hard because we lost our two best players last year in Sydnee Penn and Deborah Simmers,” said head coach Jason Mishler. “We also lost Lauren Myers, who got productive minutes for us.”
Between Penn, Simmers, and Myers, the team loses a lot of scoring power and, most importantly, experience, which can be tough.
“We had five or six girls that had outstanding offseasons, and the rest had pretty good ones,” Mishler said. “You need to have some girls come back that are way better than they were the year before. It creates a good experience for the team.”
During the offseason, Snyder and Reale both went overseas and participated for team USA at the collegiate level. This positively impacted both them as individuals and the team as a whole.
“[Reale] became a better leader from this because I know she went over there and took on a leadership role,” Mishler said. “And that’s not easy to do, because you have a bunch of good players from different schools, and that helped her become a better leader from that standpoint.
“I think [Snyder] definitely gained a lot of confidence, and this experience really gave her a lot of confidence, because she held her own against some DI kids.”
Practice officially began for women’s basketball on October 15.
“I do know that there is a gap between our upperclassmen and our new kids as far as them knowing what I expect,” Mishler said. “We are trying to close that gap, and we don’t want the upperclassmen to come [down]; we want the new kids to raise their focus and intensity.”
Many of the new players this year have potential to positively impact the team’s game.
“Freshmen Alahna Singleton and Kristen Massey are expected to be game changers when they’re in there with their speed and athleticism,” Mishler said. “Then also the sophomore transfer Rachel Goddard from Miami [Oh] who will be a solid player for us who will earn a lot of minutes.”
This incoming class gives the team a bump in skill level that they might not have had last year.
“We want to find a way to get better every day and get tougher every day,” Mishler said. “We try to keep it simple.”
The team’s home opener is Saturday, November 22; tip off against Ohio Valley (WV) is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.