The women’s basketball team dispelled any doubts or concerns it had at the outset of the 2011-12 season by posting a program record 24-win season, capturing the Empire 8 Conference Championship and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bombers graduated significant contributors from last year’s team such as Elissa Klie ’11 and Jordan Confessore ’11, which was a cause for concern amongst returning players that had experienced disappointing defeats in the Empire 8 Tournament in previous years.
Senior captain Jessica Farley said the Blue and Gold had to compensate for the loss of talent by developing strong team camaraderie.
“To be completely honest I thought it was going to be a struggle on the court,” Farley said. “We lost our top two scorers in Elissa and Jordan, so I knew we needed to get along as a team off the court.”
The Bombers developed what they frequently refer to as “unreal chemistry” on the court. They used a deep and youthful roster to play an up-tempo style that relied on a strong defense.
Junior forward Devin Shea said this season’s success changed the direction of the program for the future.
“We established a winning culture and a chemistry on the team that was unlike anything that I’ve experienced before,” Shea said. “It’s something that we’re going to try to capture next year and keep for years to come.”
This winning culture led the South Hill Squad to be one of the final 32 teams still playing in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Sophomore point guard Elisabeth Wentlent said the team’s experience in the national playoffs will fuel it to improve during the offseason.
“In the first round, everyone got into the game and everyone got a taste of what it’s like to be in the NCAA tournament,“ Wentlent said. “Playing in front of a huge crowd, you just get excited and you want to go back and participate in it again and compete for that national championship.”