Jens basketball begins MIAA play

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Junior guard BreAnna Lewis (shooting) leads the team with nearly 19.5 points per game the season. (Photo by ANDREW MATHER, Photo Editor)

Story by Jason Strickland, Sports Editor—

 Going into last night’s MIAA opener at No. 17 Fort Hays State (6-0), the No. 23 Jennies basketball team had its second consecutive 5-0 start. Results of the game were not available at press time.

Much of the early run has been the play of newcomers like juniors BreAnna Lewis, Quinnecia Twine, Symone Murray and freshman Shelby Winkelmann.
“When you’ve got a scorer that’s averaging about 19 and a half and one 17, this is going to be a little bit strange, but the unselfishness has caused us to do pretty darn well offensively,” head coach Dave Slifer said.
Lewis and Winkelmann are the players averaging those points, respectively, while Twine and Murray are fourth and fifth, respectively, on the team in scoring with 7.8 and 7.6 points per game.
Lewis credited the team’s work ethic and preparation for the 5-0 start.
“First it starts in practice,” Lewis said. “We’ve got to come in here and work hard everyday in practice, so we can carry that enthusiasm and intensity onto the court when we play our games.”
With the conference home opener set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against No. 21 Emporia State (3-1), Winkelmann expects this team will step it up even more.
“It will make us play even better now that we are in conference,” Winkelmann said. “If we play our hardest, no one can stop us if you ask me.”
Winkelmann is second all-time in scoring for girl’s high school basketball in Missouri, but decided to play volleyball at the University of Nebraska last year.
“I realized I missed basketball a lot,” Winkelmann said. “This is where I want to be.”
Newcomers haven’t been the only players having success. Senior Nicole Caddell is third on the team with 11.4 points per game, and leads the Jens with 11.2 rebounds per game.
“And she started out slow,” Slifer said. “I’m going to be honest, she wasn’t posting up very strong. All of a sudden at Lewis we make the comment that she decided to join our party. She’s really playing with a lot more focus right now.”
Caddell scored fewer than seven points in two of the first three games, but scored 10 against St. Mary’s on Nov. 18, and got 24 points at Lewis University on Nov. 24. She also had 16 rebounds in each of those games.
Caddell will be a key player in the improvements Slifer wants to make going forward.
Slifer said defensive rebounding is what the the team needs to work on. “We’ve given up way too many offensive rebounds…Historically, Emporia State has always been tremendous at going to the offensive glass, and that’s what we’ve got to get stopped.”
The Lady Hornets are second in the MIAA in offensive rebounds, while the Jens are 13th out of 15 teams in defensive rebounds this season.
Slifer said he already sees them heading toward the right direction.
“Today’s (Monday) practice was totally different than the last few days because we finally did a great job at getting a hit on people, and our guards did a great job at going for the ball,” Slifer said.
The Jens may get some help in the rebounding department when junior forward Keuna Flax becomes eligible to play Dec. 18 at the Las Vegas Challenge against Dixie State.
“She’s going to be a dynamic player for us,” Slifer said. “She’ll get right into the fire. She’s been practicing everyday, so she’ll be fine. I don’t know minute-wise. It’s different when you go and practice and when you are playing games, so we will see just where she’s at conditioning-wise.”
As for conference play, the Jens know other teams will be gunning for them.
“As the season goes on, the target is going to be on our back and everybody is going to want to beat us,” Lewis said.
“That’s where we want it,” Winkelmann said in response to Lewis. “We wouldn’t want it any other way.”