THE FIVES HAVE IT!
The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's basketball team graduated its largest class ever in 2017 with six players, four of whom were starters, leaving the Athenas. However, not to be outperformed by its predecessor, the 2017-18 edition of CMS Athenas Basketball took off running en route to one of the most successful seasons in school history.
Five was the lucky number for CMS in 2017-18 as the Athenas won its fifth-consecutive Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship. This season also marked the fifth straight year in which the Athenas broke the 20-win barrier – the standard for wins in college basketball.
But even more so, this year's 23 wins is the second-most in program history and the 85.2 percent winning percentage is the third highest. The team won 14 home games, the most in any one season for CMS. And while accumulating those 14 home wins, the Athenas set a school record amassing 19-straight wins at home over the past two seasons. And speaking of streaks, the team had win streaks of nine and 11-straight games during the 2017-18 season.
With its fifth-consecutive SCIAC title, CMS now can lay claim to 11 conference championships. It is equally impressive to note that the Athenas have finished either first or second 25 times in the 41 years they have competed in the SCIAC, and in the top-three spots for 31 of those 41 seasons.
CMS is only the third team in SCIAC history to win 5-consecutive titles. Even more, it is the first and only team ever to be in 5-consecutive conference tournament championship games. And the Athenas continue to be the winningest team among all conference schools since women's basketball hit the SCIAC in 1977.
What can this year's seniors revel in? How about 90 wins and an 80 percent overall winning percentage. How about 59 SCIAC wins – that is the most in the history of any four-year period not only in CMS history, but also in SCIAC history.
At the end of the day, as the sun sets on the careers of three of the finest seniors ever to wear the Athenas' uniform, one thing remains; their legacy will continue and their memories will flourish of their contributions to the winningest Division III basketball program not only in the SCIAC but on the West Coast.
In addition to the three seniors, this year's edition of CMS Athenas Basketball featured two juniors, five sophomores, and five newcomers. All of these amazing student-athletes contributed to the team's success and to this fifth consecutive SCIAC crown.
Kailee Severt (Sr., CMC, Moorpark) completed her 4-year starter career while continuing to accumulate some of the highest numbers in three-point shooting statistics in CMS history. She also served as co-captain.
Corinne Bogle (Sr., CMC, San Juan Capistrano) earned her first starting position after being the team's first person off the bench for the past two years. She also was a floor leader as team co-captain.
Michelle Lanterman (Sr., HMC, Manhattan Beach) was the team's first 4-year letter winner from Harvey Mudd College in eight years. She was a team leader and played both the post and the wing when coming off the bench.
Ellery Koelker-Wolfe (Jr., CMC, Pasadena) started about half of the 2018 season and was the sixth woman when she was not starting. She was effective scoring on the drive or pulling up for the 3-pointer.
Teeana Cotangco (Jr., CMC, La Canada) also rotated between starting and being the first off the bench at the point guard position. She was looked to both to defend against the opponent's ball handler and she showed off her 3-point prowess with several key baskets during the season.
Maya Love (So., CMC, Denver, CO) moved to a starting position at the forward spot in her second year with the team. She led the team in rebounding at 11 per game, the most by an Athena since Julia Hodgkins (Scripps '88) in 1988. Gloria Bates (So., CMC, Anaheim) expanded her role both with her soft shooting touch and her strong defensive presence and shot blocking ability.
Lindsey Cleary (So., CMC, Kirkland, WA) started about half the games at center. She was go-to for inside scoring and kept her opponent off the boards. Lia Gagliuso (So., CMC, Hinesburg, VT) backed up at the post position and showed her strength inside both offensively and defensively. Lauren Longo (So., SCR, Issaquah, WA) brought more to the point guard spot for CMS coming off the bench.
Katelynn Nguyen (Fr., SCR, San Marcos) is one of four point guards who joined the Athenas this season. She had the ability to drive the basketball or shoot the three. Kelly Keene (Fr., CMC, Seattle, WA) was a three-point shooter and quick defender coming off the bench. Isabella Maramica (Fr. CMC, Irvine) also played the point and wing for CMS. Maezelle Millan (Fr., CMC, Fontana) moved into the starting line-up half way through the year and provided stability to the CMS defense and running the offense during conference play. Kate Parrish (Fr., CMC, Seattle, WA) became an offensive threat at the center position and also led the team in blocked shots.
The season opened in Tacoma, WA where the Athenas played in the Puget Sound Tip-Off Invitational. There was a first-night win over Pacific Lutheran 63-57 to get the ball rolling in the right direction for CMS.
The Athenas returned home for the annual David Wells Classic, 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. Two strong second halves propelled CMS to wins over Case Western (78-58) and Ithaca (74-68) in first-time meetings against these two eastern teams.
The expanded schedule mandates the opening of the SCIAC schedule in December and this year saw the Athenas start with three conference games before final exams for the fall semester. CMS showed its grit that would come through time and time again during 2017-18 by winning all three of these important SCIAC match-ups in come-from-behind fashion. On the road against Caltech (75-59) and Pomona-Pitzer (60-52) sandwiched a home victory against Redlands (58-55).
Before the conference season started up again, the Athenas posted home wins against non-conference opponents Pacific (OR) (64-42), Middlebury (54-53), and Webster (56-49). It took a last second shot against Middlebury and an 18-11 fourth quarter against Webster to give CMS those two wins.
Back from winter break, the Athenas jumped back on the SCIAC schedule with road wins at La Verne (81-61), Occidental (58-51), and Whittier (62-51). After a home win over Caltech (68-47), there were two more wins away from Roberts Pavilion against Redlands (58-45) and Cal Lutheran (69-52).
Then a quirk in the schedule found CMS closing out the SCIAC schedule with six consecutive home games. The first three required come-from-behind magic as the Athenas overcame fourth quarter deficits to turn the games around. Besieged by injuries, CMS was without four starters against La Verne and managed to reverse a nine-point deficit to win in overtime 80-77. Similarly, after being down at halftime against Occidental, the Athenas put on a strong second half performance to beat the Tigers 67-55.
It took a two steals and a driving basket in the final thirty seconds to bring victory against Cal Lutheran 52-51. The final 10 days of SCIAC play produced wins over Pomona-Pitzer (76-51), Whittier (69-42), and Chapman (67-58). Against the Sagehens, CMS led by only three at the intermission but came out with a 12-0 run thanks to four-consecutive 3-pointers by Kailee Severt to pull away. And it was a team inspired victory over the Panthers that brought the fifth-straight conference championship to the Athenas on the final day of the season.
The following weekend was the SCIAC post-season tournament. For the fourth-straight year, CMS was the number one seed and for the fifth-straight year, the Athenas faced off against Redlands. In fact, CMS and Redlands have played each other in the semi-final match-up in seven of the eight seasons the Athenas have been in the tournament. It was a determined Bulldogs squad that pushed this game to the limit. CMS held a 1-point lead at halftime and a 4-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Clutch free-throw shooting and late defensive stops preserved this 59-55 victory and sent the Athenas to the SCIAC tournament championship match for the sixth time in eight appearances in the tournament and for the fifth consecutive season. Unfortunately, the season came to an end with a double-overtime loss to Chapman 70-61. However, true to the story of the season, everyone on the roster contributed to the fight that evening.
Similarly, there is no sadness in looking back on the success of the 2017-18 team: a fifth-straight SCIAC championship, a fifth-straight postseason tournament championship appearance, and a fifth-straight 20-win season. The 5s clearly have it for 2017-18.
After the conference season ended, the SCIAC coaches met to vote on the best players in the conference. Kailee Severt was honored with her second, first team all-conference selection (being named Player of the Year in 2016), while Maya Love earned her first award to the all-conference first team. Senior Corinne Bogle culminated her CMS career with second team All-SCIAC honors.
The annual year-end banquet brought more awards. Seniors Bogle and Severt were applauded as the team's co-captains. Bogle also was honored as the best defensive player for the 2017-18 season. The team's most valuable player award also had co-winners as Severt and Love were recognized by their teammates.
The final honor is the team's hustle award aptly named the Athena Award. This year's recipients were Michelle Lanterman and Lauren Longo for their commitment and dedication to the program and for their contributions to the on-going success of CMS Athenas basketball.
And now 2018-19 soon will be here. While the team says good-bye to the three graduating seniors, it looks forward to welcoming back 12 members of the 2017-18 squad and greeting 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 Portland, OR for a season-opening tournament to be followed the following weekend by 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.
And soon thereafter will be the start of the always-challenging SCIAC season – where CMS will be defending its fifth-consecutive conference title.
We close by thanking you, our alumnae and fans, for your continued support throughout the years. It always is appreciated to hear from you. You can follow the team on the 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 followed live with the play-by-play being on live "streaming" broadcasts on the web, along with live stats. Also, please go to the CMS Athletics website to watch the Athenas basketball highlight video from the 2017-18 season.
Looking forward to a successful 2018-19 season!
- Mike Haas (CMC '79)