The Grace Lady Tigers received a late invitation to participate in the Hersha Hospitality Classic hosted at Valley Forge Christian College in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The team was able to play two games against top quality competition and get the opportunity to bond as a team and create memories off the court.
On Thursday morning, the team stopped to visit the Flight 93 Memorial near Somerset, PA. The team was able to tour the unfinished National Memorial and see the site where the 40 crew and passengers of Flight 93 lost thier lives on September 11, 2001. Most of the team members were quite young when the event occurred and it was a great experience and reminder to them of some of the important events in our history and to reflect on the sacrifices that others have made.
Thursday evening, the Tigers took on the host Patriots from Valley Forge Christian College. Valley Forge returned Five starters from a squad that finished fifth in the 2012 NCCAA National Tournamanet, led by three time All-American guard, Amanda Reich. Reich and fellow guard, Morgan Godwin, put on a shooting display in the first half, combining to go 9-13 from the 3-point line while the Tigers struggled from the field in the first half staking the hosts to a 45-25 lead.
The Lady Tigers were not about to pack it in, however, as they embarked on a furious rally to bring the score within five points with nine minutes remaining. A lengthy time-out to correct a scoring error seemed to take the wind out of the Tiger momentum as the teams battled closely down the stretch. Valley Forge made critical shots and free throws to hold on for a 68-63 victory.
Meagan Beckwith (GR Central) led the Tigers with 17 points while Kim Kamp (Tri-Unity Christian) was also in double figures with 15. Amy Leszinske (Ravenna) had eight and Sydney Wildeboer (Kent City) six to lead the scorers.
The Tigers dominated the boards with a whopping 51-25 rebounding advantage. Meagan Beckwith also led the rebounders with 12, while Kerie Rudd (Battle Creek Pennfield) had 10, Sydney Wildeboer had nine, and Anna Iwaniw (Kent City), Marissa Pelletier (Calvin Christian), and Amy Leszinske had six each. Leszinske played a strong floor game and paced the team with six assists.
Coach Renzema chose to take a positive outlook on the game against Valley Forge.
“I obviously would have liked things to have gone differently in the first half, but I couldn’t be more proud of our team for their effort in the second half. The girls showed me there was no quit in them and they responded well to some adjustments we made defensively. We saw a lot of good things we can build on for the future.”
The tournament schedule didn’t get any easier on Friday as the Tigers faced Southeastern University, a NAIA school out of Lakeland, Florida. Southeastern had defeated multiple NCCAA champion Kentucky Christian the previous week, so this would prove to be a test for the young Lady Tiger squad.
A fast 9-0 start for the Fire and cold shooting hurt the Lady Tigers as they got to halftime with a 31-17 defecit. The Tigers played strong defense in the first 10 minutes of the second half and closed the defecit to single digits on a couple of occasions. They were not able to overcome their shooting problems as they finished at 22% for the game and ended up losing 65-36.
Kim Kamp was the lone offensive bright spot for Grace as she finished with 20 points, including 3 for 6 from behind the arc. The Tigers again dominated the boards agaisnt the much taller Fire and ended up with a commanding 40-27 rebounding advantage. Amy Leszinske led the balanced rebounding attack with eight.
The team boarded the bus for the road trip home, but managed to find some time to visit Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, PA. The girls were able to take the tour and visit the gift shop while some managed to get an early jump on buying Christmas presents for friends and family back home.
“These trips are great basketball events for the girls, but even more important are the experiences gained and relationships that are made”, Coach Renzema commented about the trip. “It would have been nice to get a win, but we saw a lot of progress on the court and the team unity is really special to see.”
The Lady Tigers will have their initial home game on Saturday, November 24 when they take on the Redhawks of Indiana University Northwest.