Season Ends At Grace In MCC Tourney Play-In Game
WINONA LAKE, Ind. - A long and injury-plagued 2008-09 season came to a conclusion for the Maple Leafs as they fell 66-79 to host Grace College in the Mid-Central College Conference Tournament Play-In Game Monday night.
"As has been the story for most of this season, our team battled admirably but just did not have the depth to finish our opponents off," said head coach Steve Wiktorowski, in his seventh season at the helm of the Leafs. "Foul trouble really hindered our inside game and overall consistency."
As was the case Saturday in a win over Spring Arbor, senior Krystal Duensing took charge early. The Granger (Ind.) native nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the first five and a half minutes as the Leafs took a 13-8 lead. The Lancers, however, immediately responded with a 7-0 run before the lead jumped back-and-forth for much of the half.
"We started off playing very well, and were very much in it at the half despite Cassie Greives only being available half the time," Wiktorowski explained as Greives picked up two early fouls.
Grace used a late 5-0 first-half run to take a 33-28 lead into the intermission. They then started the second half with a 16-6 streak as they opened a 14-point advantage.
"We came out a little flat to start the second half and gave up some easy baskets on defense," Wiktorowski added. "Yet, we regrouped and made a real nice run at them late, but Greives and Hahn both fouled out, and we couldn't catch them at the end without their inside presence."
As was the case for much of the season, the Maple Leafs lack of depth really hurt them in the second half. Goshen has entered games with as few as six "healthy" players and has had numerous players miss significant time due to injury or illness. While the Leaf continued to battle Monday night as they have all season, it simply was too much to overcome.
"Krystal Duensing carried us on her shoulders tonight with her scoring and ball handling against their trapping defense," Wiktorowski added. "Erica Emanuel, Heather Hahn and Stormy Holder all battled severe injuries to make huge contributions tonight.
"Rachel Allen was inspirational battling on both ends despite not being able to use her right hand and shooting free throws with her left. Rebecca Staveteig and Jessica Carney also gave us a nice lift off the bench, making some big plays in crucial situations."
Duensing finished the game with 20 points as she hit five 3-pointers. Emanuel, a sophomore, nearly missed a double-double as she scored nine points to go with a game-high 13 rebounds. Junior Heather Hahn contributed 13 points, while freshman Stormy Holder added 11 for Goshen.
"If you measure the success of a season by wins and losses, we clearly struggled," explained Wiktorowski. "If you measure it by how people react to major obstacles and difficult circumstances, then this was one of the most successful teams I have ever coached.
"They battled and were competitive when so many others would have quit or given up. We have a very good nucleus returning next year and the experiences some of these young players went through this season will hopefully really pay off next year."
Duensing finished her career ranked among the program's top 10 in numerous categories, including third in 3-pointers (156), ninth in assists (221), and tenth in free throws (184).
Sophomore Cassie Greives also continued to stamp her mark on the history of the program as she broke the single-season rebounding mark with 289 rebounds. She also put her name in the top 10 season marks in points (10th - 428 points), field goals (9th - 161), field goal percentage (8th - .546) and free throws (10th - 106). Her back-to-back outstanding seasons have placed her 8th on the career list with 509 rebounds in just two seasons.