SIX SENIORS GO WHERE NO ATHENAS HAVE GONE BEFORE!
CMS ADVANCES AGAIN TO NCAA ROUND OF 32!
In another season of firsts, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team overcame a multitude of challenges that persisted throughout the 2016-17 schedule to capture its fourth consecutive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship.
At the heart of this endeavor were six seniors – Kris Brackmann, Claire Donnelly, Jai Dungca, Quinn Glosniak, Shaina Van Stryk, and Aly Young – all four-year letter winners who dedicated themselves to perpetuate the successes of Athenas Basketball. Not only can they lay claim to being part of four consecutive conference championship teams, but they also achieved several other accomplishments:
- Four consecutive SCIAC tournament championships
- Four consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament
- Two NCAA first round wins
- The only Athenas who ever will be able to say they played in all 3 venues in the CMS basketball annals – Ducey Gymnasium, Linde Activity Center at Harvey Mudd College, and the new Roberts Pavilion
In a season that easily could have been shadowed by the clouds of doubt and underachievement, these seniors rose to the occasion and inspired their teammates to cast aside all dispersions and to push the naysayers away. CMS closed out the season with four consecutive wins to climb from third place to first and conference champions in the final two weeks of the season, and then swept the SCIAC Postseason Tournament to earn the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. And to top off the season, the Athenas played their finest game in defeating host University of Texas – Dallas to win an NCAA first round game for the second year in a row.
One of the many mantras of the team during 2016-17 was team defense. For the third-straight year, CMS held its opponents to under 50 points per game for the conference season. In fact, this year's team defense ranked third best in school history over the 16 game SCIAC schedule. And once again, our senior class can lay claim to another achievement in being part of the second, third and fourth-best team defenses in the 41-year history of Athenas Basketball.
What else can be said about this year's team? How about that CMS is only the third team in SCIAC women's basketball history to win four consecutive conference titles. But CMS is the only team to win four-straight conference tournament titles. The Athenas extended its record of having the most conference wins among all SCIAC schools. This year also was a record-setting fourth consecutive 20-win season; no CMS team has ever done that before.
Over the past four years, CMS has won 91 games for an 80 percent winning percentage. Even more impressive is the 58-6 record in conference games that translates to 91 percent in the win column. Over the past four years, the Athenas set the standard with a 38-game SCIAC winning streak. And the CMS records of 20-straight wins and 22-straight conference home game wins were set during the 2013-17 stretch. At the end of the day, no fewer than 67 times can one find either a team or an individual accomplishment in the Athenas record book from over the past four years.
And while the records are noteworthy and deserving of recognition, one only has to look back at the statistics for 2016-17 to see that the team is what stood out. It was the team coming together – all 18 members of the 2016-17 Athenas who fought through adversity to achieve what no one thought was possible mid-way through the year. It was the team at its finest coming from behind against Cal Lutheran and Redlands and Chapman twice to win its 10th SCIAC title and its fourth conference tournament banner. It was this team that wouldn't give in or give up that came from 11 points down in the NCAA regional semi-final game to overtake UT Dallas to win going away 79-63.
2016-17 had a slow start and a fast finish. The excitement built as the season moved on and the crescendo hit in front of a sold out Roberts Pavilion as the Athena held off Chapman for the conference title 71-62 and then once again a week later 65-54 for the SCIAC tournament championship.
As we said, it was an 18-person roster in 2016-17; the largest in three decades. Between the six seniors, four sophomores, three sophomores, and five rookies, the challenge was understood and eventually met in defending for the third year and winning for the fourth year in a row. First year players who had to understand and overcome the skeptics who said CMS could not repeat again. Having 12 returning veterans including three starters gave the Athenas the depth needed to achieve their goals.
Kris Brackmann (Sr., CMC, Mercer Island, WA) returned to the starting line-up as a wing after first team All-SCIAC selections in 2015 and 2016. Jai Dungca (Sr., CMC, Long Beach) was another returning starter and returning first team All-SCIAC player.
Claire Donnelly (Sr., CMC, Santa Rosa) was the other returning starter having played the post as the starting center for her first three years at CMS. Once again, she was the team's most proficient shot blocker and led the team in rebounding. Aly Young (Sr., CMC, Long Beach) was number two at the center position and continued to contribute both timely baskets and needed defense and rebounds at the other end of the court.
Quinn Glosniak (Sr., CMC, Kirkland, WA) moved into a starting position for 2016-17 at the strong forward spot. She was the team's second leading rebounder and was the go to person with late game baskets. Shaina Van Stryk (Jr., SCR, Northridge) again was a top gun reserve with her ability from the three-point range.
Kailee Severt (Jr., CMC, Moorpark) came off of her SCIAC Player of the Year season to start again at the wing and to add to accumulating numbers for 3-pointers along with her ability to drive to the basket for the inside score. Corinne Bogle (Jr., CMC, San Juan Capistrano) and Kylie Au (Jr., SCR, Palos Verde) came off the bench at the guard position both to lead the CMS offense and to score key baskets down the stretch. Michelle Lanterman (So., HMC, Manhattan Beach) saw her reserve action inside at the post. They all contributed to the 2016-17 success story.
Ellery Koelker-Wolfe (So., CMC, Liburn, GA) returned for her second year and contributed to the Athenas scoring attack both inside and from the 3-point line. Kiki Yang (So., CMC, Pasadena) moved into the starting point guard position when Dungca was out with a mid-season injury to run the CMS offense and head up the defense. Teeana Cotangco (So., CMC, La Canada) played a back-up point guard role with a key to defend against the opponents' top ball handlers.
Maya Love (Fr., CMC, Denver CO) was the team's first player off the bench at the forward position. She made a strong impression with her scoring ability inside. Gloria Bates (Fr., CMC, Anaheim) had a soft shooting touch and a strong defensive presence.
Lindsey Cleary (Fr., CMC, Kirkland, WA) and Lia Gagliuso (Fr., CMC, Hinesburg, VT) backed up at the center spot and showed their strength inside scoring. Lauren Longo (Fr., SCR, Issaquah, WA) was another point guard for CMS who was charged with running the CMS offense and quarterbacking the defense.
After a season-opening win over La Sierra (77-48), the team gained valuable experience with its trip to the prestigious Invitational tournament hosted by Washington University in St. Louis. Then returning home for the annual David Wells Classic, the Athenas defeated both Carleton (MN) 65-37 and UC Santa Cruz (76-51). This is the first-rate Division III tournament envisioned by former Stags head coach and CMS director of athletics David Wells (CMC '72) in which top-rate academically and athletically minded schools come to Claremont for a weekend of the best basketball Division III has to offer.
The SCIAC opener came early this year as CMS faced off against Pomona-Pitzer in early December at its new home in Roberts Pavilion. It was all Athenas in the 75-32 victory. Conference play resumed after semester recess but not before CMS upset number eight ranked Bowdoin 70-62 in overtime.
The Athenas traveled to Whittier and Redlands and came away with identical 59-43 wins. Then Caltech came to Claremont and the score was almost the same 59-44. A home won over Occidental (53-43) and a road win over Chapman (50-47) kept CMS in the hunt. A home win over La Verne (69-46) and road wins over Pomona-Pitzer (46-35) and Caltech (51-38) followed by a home win over Whittier (61-48) and a win at La Verne (65-50) tightened up the SCIAC race.
Heading into the final week, CMS faced leaders Cal Lutheran and Chapman at home. Before loud and raucous crowds at the Roberts Pavilion, the Athenas rose to the occasion with two come-from-behind wins. Against Cal Lutheran, CMS had to go to overtime before knocking off the Regals 63-58. Three nights later, with first place on the line, the Athenas earned its championship with a thrilling 71-62 victory over the Panthers. And with its two wins over Chapman in 2017, CMS captured the top seed going into the SCIAC tournament.
This was the seventh appearance for the Athenas in the 10-year history of the conference tournament and the sixth straight time in which CMS faced off against Redlands in its semi-final game and the fourth consecutive year the Athenas hosted the Bulldogs. CMS came out strong with a 17-4 lead after the first quarter. They maintained the lead the rest of the game and closed out the 62-54 win to head into the championship game for the fourth straight year.
For the second time in this four-year stretch, CMS was facing the team it shared the conference championship with: Chapman. The Panthers were looking to change their fate after two closes losses to the Athenas during regular conference play and to avenge its tournament loss to CMS back in 2014. The Athenas once again took an early lead in the first half, heading into intermission up 25-18. However, Chapman fought back and took its first lead with three minutes to play in the third quarter. CMS showed its own ability to rally with eight points in the final three minutes and to recapture the lead going into the final quarter. The Athenas defense took over and held the Panthers to only nine points in the first nine minutes of the final stanza. That was all CMS needed to come away with the 65-54 win and its fourth consecutive SCIAC Tournament championship. No other conference school can make that claim.
The conference championship also guaranteed the Athenas a spot in the NCAA Championships. And on the following Monday, the tournament bracket was announced. CMS found itself once again in the Texas Regional facing host UT-Dallas in the first round. After falling behind by as many as 11 points in the first quarter, the Athenas closed the gap to one point at halftime. The CMS offense was the story of the final two quarters as they outscored UT Dallas 43-26 to advance to the round of 32 with a 79-63 victory. This was the second consecutive year the Athenas had won the first round game – the first time a SCIAC school has done that since the 1980s. Sadly, the season ended the next night against Trinity (TX) in a game that went back and forth before CMS fell in the final 3 minutes.
However, there is no need for disappointment when one recounts the accomplishments of this 2016-17 team – a fourth straight conference championship, a fourth straight post-season tournament championship, a fourth straight 20-win season, and a second straight first round win in the NCAA championships.
After the conference season ended, the SCIAC coaches met to vote on the best players in the conference. Kris Brackmann was honored once again with her third-straight first team All-SCIAC recognition.
And now 2017-18 is soon upon us. While the team will miss its six seniors who have departed, there are 12 returning Athenas and another strong recruiting class. The sun continues to shine bright on Athenas Basketball – the winningest team in the SCIAC, having the most wins of any conference team since the Athenas' entrance in 1977.
CMS will be traveling to Tacoma, WA for the opening season McArthur Classic with games against Northwest Conference opponents Pacific Lutheran and the University of Puget Sound. The following weekend will be the Wells Classic. This is the special tournament named in Coach Wells' memory that strives each year to bring the best academic institutions from throughout the country to Claremont for a weekend of exciting basketball over the Thanksgiving holiday. This year will see Case Western Reserve University from Cleveland, OH and Ithaca University (NY) making their Wells Classic debuts.
And soon thereafter will be the start of the always challenging SCIAC season – where CMS will be defending its 2017 title. The Athenas will play at Caltech and host Redlands and Pomona-Pitzer in December enduring the balance of the conference schedule after winter recess.
We close by thanking you, our alumnae, for your continued support throughout the years. It always is appreciated to hear from you. You can follow the Athenas on the CMS Women's Basketball webpage. All of the box scores from the season are posted as soon as available during the season. And now most games can be watched live. Also, please go to the CMS Athletics website to watch the Athenas' highlight video from the 2016-17 season.
Looking forward to a successful 2017-18 season.
Written by Mike Haas CMC '79