Foresters look to shake off “first game jitters”

By Jac Rhine

Senior Pazia Speed hustles against Wilberforce during the Friday game of the Huntington University Tournament. Speed is the lone senior on the Forester squad. (Photo by Jac Rhine)

Lone senior Pazia Speed has been entrusted with leading the Forester women’s basketball team this year.  They currently sit at a 3-2 after winning the Huntington University Tournament Nov. 16-17.

Head coach Lori Culler said that the season has gone pretty much how she expected thus far.

“We are very young this year,” Culler said. “First game jitters, you just don’t know what that’s going to look like.  We obviously played well at Holy Cross. Pazia had a big game which helped us get a victory on the road which is not an easy thing to do.”

Culler believes the team’s most recent loss against Campbellsville wasn’t a complete failure as the Forester squad came back from a rough first half to play within a point of Campbellsvile in the second half.

“I really felt like the second half was a moral victory, not that I’m ever happy with moral victories,” Culler said. “They’re an NAIA Division I team that’s ranked number nine right now in the nation.  We knew it would be a difficult game.  We beat them last year and I knew [Campbellsville] would remember that.”

With the departure of three key senior players, it is left to returning players, like junior Courtney Baker, to step up and take leadership roles for the team as the squad has a lot of young, raw talent.  Baker is a duel athlete who pulled off her soccer cleats to trade them in for her basketball shoes.

“It’s exciting,” Baker said.  “I think I like being put in the leadership role, but I feel like my personality, my type of leadership, is a lot different than other people’s.  I’m not going to be vocal, always verbally stating what we should do, but I rather lead by example, hard work and just intensity.”

Some might view the amount of incoming freshman on the team as a negative, but Baker believes with time the team will grow in strength and experience.

“I think a lot of people are looking for an immediate response or action, but I think it will take a few weeks or so used to playing with this high intensity and competition,” Baker said.  “I think it will all work out pretty well once they get warmed up to it.”

Returning starter Amelia Recker had high hopes for the home tournament at Huntington Nov. 16-17.

“It would be awesome to win,” Recker said.  “We haven’t won two in a row yet, and we haven’t won at home.  I think getting two in a row and winning a tournament would hopefully jumpstart the rest of the season.  Right now we’re kind of at a rocky point.  [It] would be huge.”

The Foresters defeated Wilberforce University and Rochester College on their way to winning the Huntington University Tournament. They topped Wilberforce University 63-52 Nov. 16. The next day, they pulled away late against Rochester College 64-49 to improve to 3-2. Speed scored her 1,000th career point in the second half of the game.

The Foresters will play three more non-conference games before facing Crossroads League opponent Marian University on the road Nov. 26. Their first home conference game will be against Spring Arbor University Dec. 4 at 7:00 p.m. in Platt Arena.

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