If you had to describe the 2017-2018 season for the Red Ravens women's basketball team it would simply be "marred with injuries".
Head coach Stephen Harrel and his assistant Anita Walker were faced with the difficult task of playing over half their season with injuries to important cogs in their lineup.
Freshmen Nalon Smith, Adelina Carr, Kaylee Brown, and Dana Reliford all were sidelined for half or the entire season due to knee or foot injuries. It isn't often you see a team lose that many key players in a season and still compete at an exceptionally high level. However, you saw that from Harrel's team.
Playing with mainly six players, the Red Ravens would lean heavily on their sophomore leadership from Lucy Burke, Sky Jasper "The Limit", MaKayla Tanksley, and Alexis Wooden. These four sophomores played significant minutes every game; usually 33+ a game.
Despite the injuries, Harrel focused his team to play .500 basketball and lead them to the NJCAA Region VI Tournament. A silver lining from the injuries would be the emergence of freshmen players T'era Fullove and Tatiana McCree.
"She [T'era] was one of the girls that was lost in the shuffle early in the season," said Harrel in an earlier interview. "When she got her opportunity from the injuries, she produced and has continued to develop."
Having the opportunity to play consistent minutes is key for their development and the future outlook for the program. Looking forward to the 2018-2019 season, Fullove, McCree, and Cedreanna Lee all received the playing time and experience to help impact the incoming freshmen. These freshman received the top notch guidance not only from the coaching staff, but from the sophomores ahead of them.
- The Limit, proved to be the consistent producer for the team. On the year she lead the team in points per game with 11.7. The forward proved that her freshman success wasn't a fluke as she continued to put up solid numbers. She ranked third on the team averaging 4.8 rebounds per game. Jasper also showed great defensive awareness as she averaged 1.7 (lead team) steals per game. Jasper ranked second in assists per game with 2.7.
- Burke also showed her sharp shooting skills all season. The sophomore guard from Melbourne, Australia averaged 10.9 points per game while shooting 32.2% from the three point line. Burke proved to be more than just a shooter as she also tallied 5.7 rebounds per game and a tick under 1 block per game (0.9). Burke's highlights for the season come from a buzzer beating three pointer to beat Seward County at home and a 37 point game against Butler.
- Tanksley showed the KJCCC how talented she can be with the ball in her hand. The sophomore controlled the court night in and night out as she set the pace for the offense. The guard averaged 3 assists per game while limiting her turnovers to 2.2 per game.
- Wooden stepped up in a big way for Harrel this season. Wooden had to play big minutes down in the paint for the Red Ravens. The sophomore averaged 8.0 points per game while leading the team with 5.9 rebounds per game.
Finishing 16-16 was not where Harrel expected to finish heading into the season with all the talent he had brought in. However, being decimated by injuries to significant players and playing with six to seven players, 16-16 is an extremely impressive performance for the coach and program.
Looking ahead, the program and school will greatly miss the contributions by the sophomores, but the emergence and development of the freshmen brings optimism to the program. Knowing Harrel will have the talent and players to continue the tradition of excellence.