Injuries, Illness Continue To Devastate Leafs Vs. Grace
WINONA LAKE, Ind. - The Maple Leafs just can't catch a break as they continue to get devastated by injuries and illness. A team that has every reason to pack it in for the season, however, has been doing the exact opposite.
While a seven-minute span cost them any realistic chance in a 56-82 loss at Grace College Wednesday night, Goshen continued to battle against all odds.
"I was as proud of my team tonight as any team I have ever coached here," said head coach Steve Wiktorowski in his seventh year at the helm. "We have really been fighting through illness and injuries the last couple games and some of these girls were playing on fumes tonight, but they never gave up and continued to fight until the very end."
The Leafs came into the contest with just seven active players with the recent knee injury to Kelsey Herschberger and the illness of Rachel Allen. As if that was not enough, junior Heather Hahn was on the court despite also suffering from the flu. Then, after 20 minutes on the court, sophomore Erica Emanuel went down with a pulled hamstring.
Far from full strength, Goshen got off to a very rough start Wednesday. While the Maple Leafs missed their first nine from the field, the Lancers took advantage, hitting 11 of their first 12. Grace scored the first 20 points of the game as they held Goshen scoreless until the 12:39 mark.
"Unfortunately, we got down 20-0 the first seven minutes of the game and could never recover," Wiktorowski explained. "Yet, while we could have thrown the towel in early, we didn't. We went on to outscore them the rest of that half and played them almost even for the rest of the game. "
A 20-point deficit is difficult for any team to rebound from, but the gritty Maple Leafs gave it their best shot. Goshen was able to cut the lead down to 14 and despite hitting just 28% from the field in the first half, trailed only 40-25 at the intermission.
The Leafs continued to hold the deficit steady at the beginning of the second period, but after Emanuel went down, the Lancers quickly went on a 7-1 run. Grace shot 43% in the second half as they went on for a 82-56 win. Overall, Grace added just six points to its lead from the opening stretch.
"I felt the score was much more indicative of a horrible start than it was the level of our play the majority of the game," Wiktorowski said. "Everyone did a very good job tonight and gave me all they had."
Sophomore Cassie Greives had another outstanding outing, registering her eighth double-double of the season with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Hahn fought off her illness to play one of her better games of the season as she scored 15 points to go with five rebounds and five assists.
"Cassie had her best game of the year from the standpoint of carrying over things we work on with her against collapsing defenses and Heather led us emotionally," added Wiktorowski. "Krystal Duensing played without almost any breaks against strong full court pressure and trapping all night."
Duensing finished the night with 11 points off 4-of-8 shooting, while freshman Rebecca Staveteig had six points off the bench for Goshen.
"Rebecca and Jessica Carney both played very well in extended roles off the bench and really helped us on both ends," said Wiktorowski. "Stormy Holder did a nice job against their good shooting wings and did a great job getting the ball inside to our posts for easy baskets. And Erica fought very hard until she just couldn't go anymore with a pulled hamstring."
The Maple Leafs have three days to attempt to heal up as much as possible before they take on a very talented University of St. Francis squad. The Cougars will be in Goshen Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip.