Lady Artichokes on pace to finish season strong

Brian Palm, Reporter

With only a handful of games remaining, the lady Artichoke basketball team is entering a crucial three week stretch leading up to the end of the season.  Even though the team has spent much of this year’s campaign hovering around .500, they still have a chance to reach the regional playoffs with a strong finish down the stretch.

“We want to win them all, one at a time,” Head coach Bike Medder said.

“We have ten games left,”  Medder said prior to the Mesa game.  “To be safe, you win eight of those ten and you should be in the regionals.”

After dropping the first two games this season, the team battled back with two wins, but went on to loose five of their next six games.  Then, a dominating win over Tohono O’odham CC sparked a win streak leading into the Bill Culver Memorial Classic, a tournament that could prove to be the turning point of their season.

“We had the toughest schedule in the Bill Culver and won all three games,” Medder said of their tournament run.

Some key players that were the most noticeable were sophomore point guard and team captain Shaylin Heredia. and also freshmen wing Robyn Antone.

“We won three games against good teams,” said Heredia. “That was really a good turning point for us.”

“We worked so well together.  We were a team,” said Antone when recalling their tournament performance.

Everyone agreed the Culver Classic was the highlight of the first two-thirds of the season.  It was also unanimous that the January 24 matchup against number one Mesa CC was the game everyone had highlighted on their calendars.

“Every game’s a big game, but Mesa’s the biggest one,” Medder said.

The lady Artichokes stayed with the defending national Champions for most of the first half of the game.  Nervous shots and untidy passing eventually allowed the number-one ranked Thunderbirds to stretch their halftime lead to 17 points.

The lady Artichokes came out of the halftime break and managed to trim the lead to six points with 9:28 left.  The excitement continued to build as the ladies found themselves within two points of and three points of beating the number one team in the league.  Unfortunately for Artichoke fans, that was as close as they came.  The team eventually lost by six points, but proved they deserve a place amongst the elite teams in the conference.

Regardless of which way the Mesa game went, the lady Artichokes Basketball team had a challenge before them.  They only have two home games remaining.  February 7 and 21 against Central Arizona and Phoenix College respectively.  Both of those games will be “Pink Zone” games in support for the fight against breast cancer.

The final game of the season against Pima may turn out to be the deciding factor.  Medder predicted that Pima, along with Mesa, would most likely be involved in the playoffs.  This could perhaps make the February 24 match-up a deal breaker as the lady Artichokes fight for a playoff spot.