With four returning starters and 10 returning letterwinners, the Wilmington College women’s basketball team is ready to compete for Ohio Athletic Conference supremacy.
“We have high expectations for this team,” said Wilmington College head coach Jerry Scheve. “We have pretty much everyone back. We have gained a year of experience. We had high expectations last year, but we didn’t accomplish what we wanted in terms of wins and losses. But at the end of the year, we were playing as well as anyone in the league.”
The WC women will open its season 6 p.m. tonight against the Denison Big Red at Hermann Court’s Fred Raizk Arena.
Denison was an NCAA Div. III national tournament qualifier last season, falling to Ohio Northern in the opening round. The Big Red is led by 6-1 senior Jordan Holmes, an All-America selection last season.
Wilmington’s backcourt features a pair of all-Ohio Athletic Conference honorees in senior Brittaney Jefferson (Dayton, OH/Chaminade Julienne) and sophomore Mackenzie Campbell (Cincinnati, OH/Turpin).
The backcourt also welcomes back a pair of key contributors who missed most of last season. Senior point guard Ashley Andracki (Columbus, OH/Bishop Watterson) missed all of last season, while junior Savannah Hooper (Leesburg, OH/Wilmington) played in just seven games with two starts.
“Without a doubt, the strength of our team is our backcourt,” said Scheve. “We have two all-OAC players and getting Ashley (Andracki) back is very important for us. She is fully healthy and ready to go.”
Campbell was named the 2015-16 Ohio Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and a freshman All-American by DIIINews. She was third in the OAC in scoring with 14.9 points per game, while leading all OAC perimeters players in shooting – converting 49.5 percent from the field.
Her 401 points were the most by any Wilmington freshman in the school’s NCAA-era. She added 6.4 rebounds per game, leading all OAC freshmen. It was second on the team and 11th in the league.
There is no doubt she will escape the “sophomore slump”.
“She has worked on her shot and strength,” said Scheve. “She likes to get the ball to the basket and she knows the better she shoots, the easier is becomes to drive.”
Jefferson is a two-time All-OAC honoree after finishing fifth in the league with 14.3 points, a team-high 2.5 assists and a team-high 1.7 steals. She added 4.7 rebounds for the Fightin’ Quakers.
After spending much of the time last season, Jefferson will slide back over to her natural wing position.
Sophomore De’Jah Locke (Cincinnati, OH/Mother of Mercy) played in 24 of the team’s 27 games, averaging 2.3 points and 1.1 assists. She could play a more important role this season.
The quartet of senior Mary Moyer (Martinsville, OH/Clinton Massie), junior Emily Smith (Beavercreek, OH/Beavercreek), junior Emily Harman (Versailles, OH/Versailles) and sophomore A.J. Arling (Minster, OH/Minster) will hold down the front court.
Moyer is one of the post defenders in the league and pulled down a team-high 8.4 rebounds in starting all 27 games. She has started 54 straight games for Wilmington. Moyer added 6.4 points a season ago.
“We are very experiences in the post, and we are very talented,” said Scheve. “I look for us to score more inside. Again, the year of experience has made all of them better. We are looking for something big out of our post players.”
Smith, Harman and Arling all started a game for Wilmington and averaged more than 10 minutes per contest.
The Wilmington wildcard is senior Ja’Cole Tabor (Dayton, OH/Chaminade Julienne), who has played all five positions for the Fightin’ Quakers. After starting the season as the team’s point guard, Tabor started in the post toward the end of the season.
“She is valuable player mainly because of her experience,” said Scheve. “She is going to help us in a lot of places.”
Wilmington has a plethora of options from their newcomers – Samantha Murphy (Fayetteville, OH/Perry), Kaitlyn Finton (Coshocton, OH/Ridgewood), Kelly Noll (Milford, OH/Milford), Morgan Ritz (Seymour, IN/Seymour) and Miranda Groseclose (Carrollton, KY/Carroll County) – that will compete for a spot in the rotation.
“The best thing about our freshmen is they are picking things up quickly,” said Scheve. “The quicker they do that, the sooner their playing ability will take over.”