The MU Ancilla Women's Basketball Team had a lot to play for in their regular season finale, including the celebration of Sophomore Day, the chance to win their 20th game of the season, a perfect home conference record, and a chance to clinch a home Region XII playoff game on March 7th. After a slow start, the Chargers found their form and rolled to a 65-50 win over Kellogg Community College, a team that handed the Chargers a 60-45 defeat earlier in the February.
The game started out with both teams scoring but both teams struggling to get defensive stops. Alexis German had the hot hand early on her Sophomore Day as her back-to-back three pointers got the Chargers clicking on offense. Kellogg responded with a run of their own to tie the game but it was the Chargers who scored the last 4 points on a Jayci Allen layup followed by Audrey Schmidt scoring in the paint to give MU Ancilla a 17-13 lead after the 1st quarter. The second quarter was much of the same as the teams traded baskets back and forth throughout with neither team grabbing more than a 5 point lead. After Kellogg took a 28-25 lead with 1:50 left in the half, the Chargers rallied with a late 6-1 run on the strength of 3 straight Kyra Duncan baskets to take a 31-29 lead at the half.
Coach Gould talked about the back and forth first half. "I thought we were as good as we have been all season offensively in the first half but we just could not get stops. Coach Konkle does a great job with her team and they gave us so many problems trying to guard them. We pride ourselves on our defensive play but they scored easily on us the first time we played and that carried over into the first half tonight. We knew what they wanted to do but we could not stop it and that is a credit to Coach Konkle and her team. Alexis German gave us a huge boost early knocking down a couple threes and then Kyra Duncan was just unstoppable throughout the half."
It was MU Ancilla who came out on fire in the 3rd quarter both offensively and defensively as they started the half on a 16-4 run that gave them some much-needed breathing room at 47-33. After a Bruin timeout, Kellogg responded with a quick 5-0 run to get the lead back to 9 at 47-38. Nicole Swain followed with a great drive to the basket and after a defensive stop, Kyra Duncan attacked the basket and finished off a 3-point play at the free throw line to get the Charger lead back to 52-38 after the 3rd quarter. The Chargers held Kellogg to just 8 points in the quarter with their physical defense and rebounding which seemed to wear down the Bruins.
The first 5 minutes of the 4th quarter saw the Chargers grow their lead to 62-41 on the strength of a 10-3 run which effectively put the game out of reach. The Bruins scored the last five points of the game to wrap up the scoring at 65-50 in favor of MU Ancilla. The Chargers held Kellogg to just 21 points in the second half while scoring 34 of their own.
Kyra Duncan was sensational on her Sophomore Night, scoring 27 points on 12-17 shooting while adding 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Jayci Allen added another double-double to her fantastic freshman season, finishing with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Nicole Swain rounded out double figure scorers with 11 key points of her own.
Coach Gould recapped a great night. "I cannot say enough about this group of girls. We have gone through an entire season with between 7 and 9 players but they have worked so hard for each other and they have formed a strong bond as a team. We finished the regular season with some momentum while also accomplishing some big things. Winning 20 games in a season at any level of basketball is a great achievement. They also went undefeated at home in MCCAA play, qualified for the Region XII playoffs, and earned the right to host a playoff game. Hopefully we can rest up the next few days and get prepared to play an outstanding Southwestern Michigan College team."
Gould went on to praise his sophomores. "This sophomore group has been amazing to work with. We have a little bit of everything. Alexis German is playing her covid season as a 2nd year MU Ancilla player and she has been a leader for us from day one of the preseason. She keeps us all organized and just has a maturity to her game because she has seen it all. Ellie Fausnaugh is also a 2nd year MU Ancilla player and also a dual-sport athlete who came in after soccer. Her first day of practice, she was the first one in the gym and ready to go early. That is who Ellie is. She is a tremendous leader on our campus and an asset to any group she is a part of. Leah Thompson joined our team late after volleyball season ended after I asked her probably ten times to come out and I cannot thank her enough. She added another mature athlete to our team who has grown close with our group while balancing another sport, coaching a youth volleyball team, and having the highest GPA on our team. Kyra Duncan transferred in late in the process and from her first open gym, she played with an attacking style that has rubbed off on our team. She knows how to get a bucket and she plays with a fearlessness on the court that is impossible to teach. These four girls have brought so much to our team and we cannot thank them enough for everything they have done."
The Chargers will return to action on Tuesday, March 7th when they will host Southwestern Michigan College at 7:00 for the first round of the Region XII playoffs. The Chargers won the first meeting between the two teams at home 58-39 with SMC winning on their home court by a score of 68-48. The Chargers have not lost since that game, finishing the season on a 5-game winning streak.