Sports The Point Weekly

Women’s basketball attempts to turn season around after injuries take toll

With an overall record of 9-9, PLNU women’s basketball has had a variety of victories and setbacks.

Many of the players have been injured or sick over the course of this season, putting some seniors on the bench for extended periods of time.

Jessica Escorza, a senior guard, sustained a knee injury, keeping her from playing a large portion of the season, her last season here at PLNU.

“11 of [16] of our games have been on the road and I knew that would be as difficult as it has been,” said head coach Bill Westphal. “What I didn’t count on was losing Jessica Escorza to a knee injury. She’s probably our top player.”

Another senior, Savannah Erskine, can be a strong point guard, according to Westphal, but due to a few minor health concerns has had trouble having a consistent game.

All of the health-related issues facing players have set the team back, playing a large part in their up-and-down record.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate without injuries as far as the past couple years,” said Abby Boorman, sophomore forward. “It sucks for me seeing them sitting out because I know how much they want to play and I know how much I want them to play and there’s really nothing I can do about it.”

These health and injury-related setbacks, coupled with a majority of away games has made it difficult to play their best, resulting in a fluctuation win/loss record. And playing an average game, according to Westphal, only secures a win against the easier teams, meaning that PLNU can only win against the more challenging teams when they bring their A-game.

“The challenge is to sustain our A-game for 40 minutes; that’s the challenge in sports,” said Westphal. “There’s probably been a little bit too much up and down and inconsistencies, either within the same games, or we just haven’t played well very often from start to finish. And that’s probably a product of having some young players, some injured players and just needing more time to play together.”

And with the stress of school, the number of away games really hits home for some of the players. Missing so much school for basketball is really difficult, putting stress on all of the players to keep up with school despite their difficult schedule, according to Callie Rhoads, senior guard.

Even with all these obstacles, the girls stayed confident and faithful to their teammates.

With a surprising number of seniors on the team this year, it’s hard not to wonder how the team will carry on next season with half the team made up of fresh faces. However, despite the coming transition, Rhoads said she is confident that this season’s younger players will be able to lead next years’ team effectively.

PLNU is a NCAA Division II school, however, because this season is only the second year in the new league, women’s basketball will not be eligible for post-season in compliance with a mandatory two-year transition period. But women’s basketball is eligible to compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) tournament this year.

And although the season is coming to a close, the team seems confident in being able to participate the tournament, having already beaten APU once and with another chance to defeat California Baptist.

“We’re still in the running for the NCCAA tournament, so I think our motivation and our drive is still high,” said Westphal. “We just have to do it on the court more often.”