The Rangers set school history today with their big 90-44 victory over the University of Illinois-Springfield. The Rangers twenty-first win of the season is a school record, and netted them the North Division crown in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
“I’m really proud of them,” said Head Coach Jenny Kenesie after the game. “I thought we came out really strong. We played with a lot of intensity on the defensive end very early. Our starters got us out to a great start.”
The Rangers were celebrating two great events in this game: Senior Day and the Pink Game. Many of the 822 people in attendance wore their pink UW-Parkside Rangers Basketball shirts. Each shirt was a direct $10 donation for Breast Cancer Awareness, as a part of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Pink Zone Initiative. Also available were silent auctions, and other available items that contributed to the donations.
“It was a special day,” Head Coach Jenny Kenesie said after the game. “It being Pink Day was extremely special, along with Senior Day. Last game of the year, us being the division leaders, and us playing at home first round of the conference tournament. It’s pretty exciting, and we’re looking forward to next week.”
For Senior Day, the Rangers acknowledged seniors Erin Pfieffer, Jen Moran, and Amanda Gibson prior to the start of the game. The three seniors were brought out to center court with their parents, and met with a warm reception from those in attendance.
The game got going for the Rangers very quickly. The game started up with a series of offensive rebounds by the Rangers, eventually getting senior Jen Moran to the line. From there, they stormed out an eight point run before Illinois-Springfield finally got a shot to drop in at the 16:31 mark in the first. From there, the Rangers put on a show. The Rangers pulled out a run of twenty-seven points before Illinois-Springfield answered back.
The first half itself was all about capitalizing upon opportunities. The Prairie Stars of Illinois-Springfield coughed up nineteen first half turnovers, to which the Rangers put up sixteen points off of them. The Rangers generated nine first half steals, and were all over loose balls that Illinois-Springfield were dishing up.
Even up by as much as thirty-eight points in the first half, the Rangers were still fired up and hungry for the ball. Sophomore Brittany Beyer was flying to the floor to get turnovers, something she typically doesn’t have a problem doing. However, the fact the Rangers were playing that hard with such a lead says a lot about this team’s determination for success.
“We had the mentality that we’re going to bury someone,” said Coach Kenesie. “It’s something we talk with our young ladies all the time. When you know you want to go out there, play aggressive, play hard, and do your thing, then go out there and have that mentality. I want to beat somebody bad, and I don’t care who you’re playing, best team in the league or the worst team in the league, you have got to go out there and have that mentality, and I thought we did that this afternoon.”
Come the second half, the Rangers started going up more and more. The Rangers’ biggest lead in this one was by fifty-four points, and that came with ten more minutes to still play. Illinois-Springfield, who seated a bench of four players to Parkside’s eleven, were simply in the tough position of being completely out of the Rangers’ league, but being in it. It was like the movie The Mighty Ducks when the Ducks first play the Hawks. The sides were completely different, one team was blowing the other out, and the game was all but over very quickly.
The Rangers eventually rolled out their freshmen squad. Of the freshmen playing in this one, Karissa Laskowski, Carly Prokup, and Kristen Ruchti picked up points, much to the cheer of the Ranger bench. With 1:23 left on the clock, the Rangers put in their three seniors on the floor in a substitution. They played for a brief period of time, and nearly helped get Erin Pfieffer on the score sheet in this one. They were soon taken off to a standing ovation from the crowd at DeSimone Gymnasium, and the Rangers capped an overpowering 90-44 win over Illinois-Springfield.
The Rangers had four players score in the double digits. Brittany Beyer has a team high nineteen points, and senior point guard Amanda Gibson tagged on another fourteen points to her career total. Amanda Gibson has posted 1277 points in her Parkside career, which puts her fifth all time in school history. She is also the only four year starter to start every game from her freshmen year in Parkside history.
“It’s been unbelievable,” exclaimed Head Coach Jenny Kenesie. “We got a list of goals that we put together as a team before the year started, and, just the other day, I went in there and I’m looking at what we’ve accomplished. We still have some things that we want to achieve, but the list is pretty big and we’ve accomplished a lot of those goals. It’s been a fun year, and it’s been a credit to our young ladies. They work so hard, they put in the time in the offseason, and I really think that we’re one of the best teams in the league.”
After the game finished, the players gathered with their coaches, and a ladder was brought out under the basket nearest the Parkside player bench. The team had each player cut down a part of the net, and take a piece of it with them.
“It was Coach Fischer’s idea,” laughed Head Coach Jenny Kenesie. “He’s all about enjoying the moment, and talked me into it. Believe me, it took quite a bit of talking into, but whatever we can do to help our kids experience something special we’re going to do.”
With the school record twenty-one win season, the Rangers are the 2009-10 GLVC North Division Champions. The Rangers will now have a first round bye in the GLVC playoffs, and will be hosting a game in one week’s time. That game will be February 28th at 1pm at DeSimone Gymnasium, and will be against the winner of a game held in DeSimone on the day prior to the Rangers opening playoff game in the second round. The League’s Final Four will be played on the campus of Illinois-Springfield the following weekend. The NCAA tournament teams and pairings will be released Sunday, March 7th.
Stay tuned to The Ranger News for updates on the Women’s Basketball team, who look to further their historic accomplishments this year.