The Baker Orange

Wildcats prepare for season opener

Story by Megan Henry

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Coming off a fourth-place conference finish last season, the Baker University women’s basketball team was picked to finish in the same spot in the Heart of America Athletic Conference preseason poll.

“My expectations for this season are high,” sophomore Jami Hodge said. “We only lost three girls from last year which means our chemistry is there and we will have great leadership on the floor.”

Ben Lister will return for his third year as head coach of the Wildcats. Last year, during what he called a “transition year,” he turned the team from a six-win season (2011-12) to a 20-win program.

This season, he thinks the team will build off of last year’s dramatic improvements and continue to succeed.

“Last year we lost five games by three points or less. We weren’t able to finish enough games in the last five minutes,” Lister said. “We were a good team, but not a great team. We’re working on addressing how to play the full 40 minutes and finish games. It’ll be something we have to push hard to do, and we’ll see if we’re able to do it.”

The team is returning 10 players, including senior point guard BriAnna Garza who expects her teammates to hold each other accountable in order to clinch wins.

“I think the biggest challenge will be not beating ourselves,” Garza said. “It’s the little things that beat us as a team. If everybody works hard, we’ll have a good year ahead of us.”

Hodge believes the team works well together and can all hold each other responsible for playing their best during practice and games.

“We are all motivated to be the No. 1 team in the conference,” Hodge said. “It’s important for our team to come out with confidence and a chip on our shoulder that we are the best team.”

The Baker Classic will mark the opening of the women’s basketball season. The Wildcats will take on Tabor College at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 in Collins Center.

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