ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS —
With a steady influx of “Killer B’s,” the fortunes of the St. Mary-of-the-Woods’ women’s basketball team are once again on the rise.
Just two short years ago, the Pomeroys suffered the indignity of a two-win season. Last year, that scenario improved eight times over, resulting in a 16-win season.
SMWC also snapped a five-game losing skid last year in its annual intracity matchup with rival Rose-Hulman. The Pomeroys will oppose the Engineers at Hulbert Arena on Tuesday.
This year? Well, time will tell, of course. One thing is for certain, SMWC coach Deanna Bradley, now in her 17th season, is smiling a lot more than she has in recent campaigns.
A “B” a year the past four seasons has impacted the program greatly, The past two years, the Pomeroys added pair of talented players from arguably the best high school conference in Indiana, the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference.
Last year, Brittany Shaner arrived from Center Grove.
This year, Jordan Barton of Warren Central is on the scene. All those two have accomplished in a 4-2 start this season is to top the stat sheet for the Pomeroys.
Shaner (5-9 sophomore) is averaging around 15 points a game, shooting over 50 percent. Barton (5-11 freshman) is averaging nearly a double-double of abount 14 points and eight rebounds, also shooting over 50 percent.
“Both come from big conference schools … it’s good for us to get kids out of those programs,” Bradley stated. “We’re still a very young team, with five freshmen … six new players.”
Two other B’s, Chelsey Barron (5-5 junior) and Brooke Brown (6-1 senior), arrived prior to Brittany and Barton.
Barron is their point guard, averaging about eight points a game, five rebounds, and leads the team in assists. Brown, who has battled career-long chronic leg injuries, is a post presence with double-figures in assists and blocks despite limited playing time that varies from game to game.
“We have 11 players, the most we’ve had in a while,” Bradley noted. “We can actually practice 5-on-5, instead of 3-on-3 or 3-on-4. That’s made a difference.”
That extra firepower has helped the Pomeroys play well down the stretch in earning come-from-behind victories thus far, winning in the last 30 seconds and the last 11 seconds in two of their four victories.
“We have to go into each game and play hard … it’s that simple,” Bradley said prior to Monday’s home game vs. Principia College. “Only one game was not at the level we can play at. And it showed.”
The team’s other senior has also been plagued by injury throughout her career too. Abby McKee (5-11) is currently limited due to an ACL injury. “She is playing at about 70 percent,” Bradley said. Their other returnee is Whitney Allen (5-7 sophomore).
The balance of the team consists of a junior college transfer and four freshmen.
“We have four freshmen trying to find minutes,” Bradley stated. Those four frosh performers are Chelsea Weaver (5-11), Patria Hill (5-4), Kelly Zecher (5-11) and Olivia Wells (5-11).
“Weaver comes from a Shelbyville program that’s struggled recently. We’re wanting her to play more inside,” Bradley said. “Patria is a point guard. She’s learning the system and will help us down the line. Zecher is big at 5-11 and can shoot the 3. We just don’t want her to shoot it so often. She’s learning how to play in the post.”
The other freshman, Olivia Wells of Linton, is hoped to return in about a month due to a meniscus injury.
The junior college transfer is Jenni McLeish, who played high school ball at South Vermillion. Bradley admits she has been pleasantly surprised by her progress after playing the last two years at Lake Land College.
“She expressed interest to come here and play out of high school, but I didn’t think she was ready to play at this level. So we didn’t recruit her,” Bradley admitted. “She’s improved tremendously the last two years.”
“This team really works well together, all 11 players. That’s not always been the case the past few years,” Bradley said. “This group gets along together both on and off the court. That’s been a blessing.”
The Pomeroys wrap up a three-game homestand with a matinee game (2 p.m.) vs. Greenville College on Saturday. The team will play its next 13 of 14 games on the road, before ending the season with six straight home games.
The Pomeroys still plays their “home” games at the Clinton Recreation Center, commonly known as the former Clinton High School Gymnasium.
While Bradley would like to have a better balance of home vs. away games, she sees the current schedule an advantage in helping this team achieve its goals.
“This give us a chance to play several more games on college floors instead of our high school-length court,” Bradley stated. “This will help us in our goal to get back into the [USCAA] National Championships.”